The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “Quick and Painless” – Season 2, Episode 5

THE STRAIN -- "Quick and Painless" -- Episode 205 (Airs August 9, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet, Ruta Gedmintas as Dutch Velders. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

On The Strain, “Quick and Painless,” Ephraim traveled to D.C.; Abraham searched for an ancient text; Nora and Dutch sprang Vasiliy out of jail; Nora taught Justine a new screening method to detect the infected; and Dutch and Vasiliy helped the police kill strigoi.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Quick and Painless” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo and race test.

Women talked to each other a couple of times in “Quick and Painless” and there was one instance where women talked to each other where both of the women had names and men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Nora told Justine she knew a quicker way to discover whether someone is infected) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. However, while “Quick and Painless” passed the Bechdel test, it failed to pass either the Russo or race test.

“Quick and Painless” did not pass the Russo test even though Dutch was in the episode and she was not defined by her sexual orientation (in fact, her sexual orientation was never brought up in “Quick and Painless”) because she could have been removed from the episode without causing a huge change to occur to the plot of “Quick and Painless.” And as to why the episode did not pass the race test, even though there were a couple of non-White characters in “Quick and Painless” there was never an instance where non-White characters talked 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.

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