The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “The Master” – Season 2, Episode 1

The Strain returned tonight with “The Master” and kicked off its second season by telling the origin story of the Master; by introducing Abraham to the Ancients; and most importantly, in this episode, a new method to destroy the vampires was generated.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Master,” episode 1 of the second season of The Strain, passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

“The Master” passed the Bechdel test because the one time that women did exclusively talk to each other and not to men, both women were named and men were not mentioned in their conversation (e.g., Miss Sanger talked to Megan and helped her get off the bus). The episode did not pass either the Russo or race test, however, because the one LGBTI character in the episode, Dutch, did not pass all of the Russo test’s requirements (e.g., she was not important to the episode and she could have easily have been taken out of the episode without significantly impacting the plot) and because the three non-White characters in the episode (Nora, Gus and an unknown Black man) who had speaking parts never spoke to each other.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

**The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The show contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a show passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in television. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the show.