The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Knock, Knock” – Season 2, Episode 2

On Gotham, “Knock, Knock,” the inmates of Arkham were unleashed onto Gotham, and they (the inmates) had the best of times as they threw men off of buildings, terrorized cheerleaders and shot up a police department.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Knock, Knock” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

Barbara gives Jim a talkin’ to.

“Knock, Knock” passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because Barbara, a LGBTI character, was in the episode; because Barbara was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also a criminal); and because her removal from the episode would have made a significant impact on the plot as she was the one who lured Jim out of the police department right before the rest of the Manixs shot up the place. As to the Bechdel and race test, “Knock, Knock” did not pass either of these diversity tests.

“Knock, Knock” did not pass the Bechdel test because the named women in the episode (Barbara, Thompkins, Essen and Tabitha) never talked to each other. In the case of the race test, “Knock, Knock” did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White actors in the episode who had speaking parts, the one time that non-White people actually talked to each other, a White man was mentioned (e.g., Theo asked Tabitha whether or not she had killed the mayor).

*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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