In this week’s episode of Faking It, “Boiling Point,” Lauren, Amy, Karma, Liam, Shane and Felix were thrown into a Breakfast Club-esque scenario where they all had detention together. They, of course, wound up fighting, but they eventually made up with each other and attempted an escape from detention so that Shane could talk to Duke before he left the country.
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“Boiling Point” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.
“Boiling Point” passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because of the several times that named women talked to each other, there were three instances where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Karma and Amy talked to each other on two separate occasions about movies and mints and Lauren and Karma sniped at each other). “Boiling Point” also passed the Russo test, and the episode easily passed this test because there were four different LGBTI characters – Lauren, Amy, Shane and Duke – who passed all of the Russo test’s requirements. How exactly did they all pass the Russo test? Well, Lauren, Shane, Amy and Duke all passed the Russo test because they are LGBTI and they were in “Boiling Point”; because none of them were solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Shane, Lauren and Amy were also students and Duke was an athlete); and because none of them could have been removed from the episode without significantly impacting the plot as the entire episode was about their relationships with each other.
As to the race test, “Boiling Point” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because there was only one non-White person (Theo) in the episode.
*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.