Amy and Karma worked on trying to get into a summer college program in Faking It, “Future Tense,” but when Reagan gained an opportunity to go on tour with a band, Amy was faced with having to decide whether she should stay behind with Karma and attend college or whether she should leave college behind and go on tour with Reagan.
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“Future Tense” passed the Bechdel and Russo test, but it did not pass the race test.
There were several named women in “Future Tense” who talked to each other, and while men were almost always mentioned (directly or indirectly) in these women’s conversations, there were three instances where some of these named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Reagan asked Amy to go on tour with her, Amy told Karma that she wasn’t going to go to college and Karma convinced Amy not to give up on her dream of college) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. “Future Tense” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because of five separate LGBTI characters – Amy, Reagan, Lauren, Shane and Duke.
The main storyline of “Future Tense” revolved around Amy and Karma trying to get into a summer college program and Reagan trying to convince Amy to go on tour with her instead. Amy and Reagan were thus obviously important to the plot of “Future Tense” and irreplaceable since the episode revolved around them, and because the two are LGBTI and they weren’t solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Amy was also a friend and a student and Reagan was a musician), they (and thus the episode) passed the Russo test. Lauren, Shane and Duke also passed the Russo test, and they passed this test for three reasons. One, because Lauren, Shane and Duke are LGBTI. Two, because while they weren’t part of the main storyline of the episode, Lauren, Shane and Duke were all still important and irreplaceable characters since “Future Tense” was an ensemble episode and Lauren, Shane and Duke had their own little storylines going on in “Future Tense.” And three, because none of them were solely defined by their sexual orientation or intersex status (e.g., Lauren and Shane were also students and Duke was a fighter).
As to the race test, there were two non-White actors in “Future Tense” who had speaking parts (Yvette Monreal and Keith Powers), but because they never spoke to each other (let alone talked to each other without mentioning White people), “Future Tense” did not pass the race test.
*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.