The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Awkward., “The Dis-Engagement Dinner” – Season 5, Episode 5

Jenna (i.e., Tamara) threw an engagement party for Tamara and Adam on Awkward., “The Dis-Engagement Dinner,” and the party, in true Awkward. style, was full of disasters.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Dis-Engagement Dinner” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.

Named women talked to each other numerous times in “The Dis-Engagement Dinner,” and while they almost always mentioned men in their conversations, there was one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Tamara told Jenna that she needed to give a speech) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. “The Dis-Engagement Dinner” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because Tamara, who is LGBTI, was in the episode; because Tamara wasn’t solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also a friend and a high schooler); and because Tamara’s removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as the entire episode revolved around her engagement party.

As to the race test, while there were two non-White people (i.e., Sergio and Gabby) in “The Dis-Engagement Dinner,” they never talked to each other so the episode did not pass this 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.

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