The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “The Battle for Red Hook” – Season 2, Episode 9

On The Strain, “The Battle for Red Hook,” Eichorst, with the help of Kelly and a miniature army of strigoi, took over Red Hook, turned off the lights and searched for Eph, Setrakian and Zach.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Battle for Red Hook” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.

“The Battle for Red Hook” passed the Bechdel test because of the couple of occasions where named women talked to each other there were three brief instances where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Dutch told Nikki that she was going to check out what was happening out on the streets, Dutch thanked Nikki for saving her life and Dutch and Nora greeted each other). The episode also passed the Russo test, and “The Battle for Red Hook” passed this test because Dutch and Nikki (LGBTI characters) were in the episode; because they were not solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Dutch was resourceful, handy and a fighter and Nikki was a fighter, a daughter and a coward); and because these women were important to the plot and could not have been taken out of the episode without causing a significant change to occur to the plotline of the episode as their relationship was one of the key points in this episode.

As to the race test, “The Battle for Red Hook” did not pass this test, and this episode did not pass this test because the two non-White actors in this episode who had speaking parts (Mía Maestro and Ron Canada) never talked to each other let alone talked to each other without mentioning White people.

*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.