The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “Dead End” – Season 2, Episode 11

THE STRAIN -- "Dead End" -- Episode 211 (Airs September 20, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Ruta Gedmintas as Dutch Velders. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

On The Strain, “Dead End,” Setrakian found the Occido Lumen, but it was spirited away from him before he could read it; Gus helped the Guptas get across the border; Fet, Eph and Nora searched for Dutch; and Dutch was held-in-captivity and tortured by Eichhorst.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Dead End” passed the Russo and race test but did not pass the Bechdel test.

While “Dead End” was an ensemble episode, one of the central plots revolved around Dutch (a LGBTI character) and her torture and captivity so Dutch was both important to the plot of the episode and irreplaceable due to her central role. Because Dutch was also not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also a woman, a fighter and a prisoner), “Dead End” was able to pass all of the requirements of the Russo test and thus pass the test itself. “Dead End” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this test because there were many instances where non-White actors talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Miguel Gomez talked to Parveen Kaur, Sugith Varughese and Joaquín Cosio in “Dead End” on several occasions without mentioning White people).

In regards to the Bechdel test, while there were a couple of named women in “Dead End” who had speaking parts (e.g., Nora, Dutch and Helga), none of them ever talked to each other so the episode did not pass the Bechdel 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.