The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Teen Wolf, “Required Reading” – Season 5, Episode 6

On Teen Wolf, “Required Reading,” Stiles, Kira, Scott, Lydia, Malia and Theo read The Dread Doctors. The Wolf Pack hoped that by reading the book that any hidden memories that they had of the Doctors would be triggered, but instead of recalling the Doctors, Stiles, Scott and Lydia recalled past memories of their families. Memories which they may or may not have witnessed.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Required Reading” passed the Bechdel and race test but did not pass the Russo test.

There were a couple of instances in “Required Reading” where named women talked to each other with mentioning men (e.g., Lydia talked to a named female student about her stress problem and Lydia told her mom that she was alright), and non-White characters talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., when Scott’s mom injected him with medication he asked her what it was and Scott told Kira not to give up reading The Dread Doctors) so the episode passed the Bechdel and race test. The episode did not, however, pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because despite the fact that there were multiple LGBTI characters in the episode who were not solely defined by their sexual orientation, none of the LGBTI characters were important to the plot of the episode and they could have easily have been taken out of “Required Reading” without causing a huge change to the episode’s plot.

*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.