The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “Fort Defiance” – Season 2, Episode 3

On The Strain, “Fort Defiance,” Ephraim took his son to the lab and showed him what he was working on (needless to say, this did not go well); Abraham ground up worms and turned them into a health tonic; Dutch searched for answers about her missing ex-girlfriend; and Gus and some vampires worked on kidnapping Eldritch.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Fort Defiance” passed Russo and race test but did not pass the Bechdel test.

There was one LGBTI character, Dutch, in “Fort Defiance” and because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined by her identity as a hacker) and it would have been impossible to remove her from the plot of the episode without causing a significant change to occur (she had her own storyline in “Fort Defiance” after all), “Fort Defiance” passed the Russo test. “Fort Defiance” also passed the race test because there was one instance where non-White characters talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Gus asked a Black employee to help him get a trolley out of a truck), but the episode did not pass the Bechdel test because the one time women talked, one of the women didn’t have a name (e.g., Dutch asked her ex-girlfriend’s mom whether or not she had seen her daughter).

*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.

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