The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Awkward., “Prank Amateurs” – Season 5, Episode 1

Awkward. returned tonight and began its fall season with “Prank Amateurs.” In the episode, Jenna and her friends kept trying to pull off senior pranks but their pranks kept failing miserably, and amidst all of this, Jenna learned that Gabby had cheated on Matty with Jake and Jenna found herself unsure on whether or not she should tell Matty.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Prank Amateurs” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

“Prank Amateurs” passed the Bechdel test because there were two occasions where named women talked to each other without mentioning men. For example, Sadie and Lissa talked to each other about a senior prank, and Sadie, her mom and Valerie all talked to each other about Sadie’s mom’s return.

In regards to the Russo and race test, “Prank Amateurs” did not pass either test. The episode did not pass these tests because while there were LGBTI characters (Tamara, Cole and Theo) in the episode who were not solely defined by their sexuality and there were non-White actors (Erinn Westbrook and Niko Pepaj) in the episode, none of the LGBTI characters were vital to the plot of “Prank Amateurs” and they thus could have been removed without causing too many changes to occur to “Prank Amateurs” and none of the non-White actors ever 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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