The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “The Assassin” – Season 2, Episode 10

On The Strain, “The Assassin,” Eph and Dutch set out on a mission to kill Eldritch.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Assassin” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

“The Assassin” passed the Russo test because Dutch (who is LGBTI) was in the episode; because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also an assassin); and because she was important to the plot and she couldn’t have been taken out of the episode without causing the storyline to radically change (e.g., Dutch was important to the episode because through her special skills she and Eph were able to track down Eldritch’s whereabouts in order to kill him and this was significant because the assassination of Eldritch was the center point of “The Assassin.” Plus, Dutch was kidnapped in this episode and this was important because The Strain is an ensemble show and Dutch is part of the main ensemble).

In regards to the Bechdel test, “The Assassin” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of named women in the episode (e.g., Coco, Dutch, Nora and Justine), none of them ever spoke to each other. “The Assassin” also failed to pass the race test, and the episode did not pass this test because the three non-White actors in the episode who had speaking parts (Mía Maestro, Ron Canada and a Black actor who played a cop) never spoke 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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