On Awkward., “Now You See Me, Now I Don’t,” the school’s yearbooks were released and Jenna was captioned as “the most depressing.” Pissed off and afraid that she really would be “depressing” for the rest of her life, Jenna lashed out at her mom and she just so happened to do so at the worst of times – hours before her high school’s mother-daughter banquet where the moms put on a performance and imitate their daughters. Jenna was thus left to wonder, would her mother seek revenge against her at the banquet?
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“Now You See Me, Now I Don’t” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.
There were many named women in “Now You See Me, Now I Don’t” who talked to each other and there were several occasions where men were not mentioned in some of these named women’s conversations so the episode easily passed the Bechdel test. The episode also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because there were three LGBTI characters in the episode who met all of the Russo test’s requirements.
The three LGBTI characters that were in “Now You See Me, Now I Don’t” were Cole, Theo and Tamara. In the case of Cole and Theo, they passed all of the requirements of the Russo test because while they only briefly appeared in “Jenna in Wonderland,” they both played important parts in the episode as one of the main storylines of the episode was how Theo and Cole had hijacked the school yearbook and because neither of them were solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Theo and Cole were also pranksters and students). As to Tamara, she passed all of the Russo test’s requirements because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation as she was also a high schooler and a friend and because her removal from the episode would have caused a significant effect to the plot as she is part of the main cast of Awkward. and because her own storyline (i.e., her engagement story) was furthered in the episode.
As to the race test, “Now You See Me, Now I Don’t” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because there were no non-White people in the episode who had speaking parts.
*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.