She Was Pretty, a new K-drama, started a couple of weeks ago. The drama features Hwang Jung-Eum and Park Seo-Joon who have worked together previously on Kill Me, Heal Me where the two played siblings. In this new drama, however, instead of playing brother and sister, Hwang and Park are playing long lost childhood friends who are each other’s first loves. And because this is a K-drama that we are talking about, there are plenty of hijinks, lies and misunderstandings that ensue throughout the series.
In the first episode of She Was Pretty, Hye-Jin (Hwang) can’t catch a break. She feels like she’s a background character who will never be the lead and who only has bad things happen to her. Case in point, in the first episode alone, Hye-Jin’s customers at a restaurant request for a prettier server; she is pushed into a pool at her friend’s birthday party and her phone is ruined; and she can’t find a job but she has student loans that she has to pay. Matters only get worse when Hye-Jin’s old childhood friend and first love Sung-Joon (Park) contacts her.
Sung-Joon tell Hye-Jin that he wants to meet up with her, and while Hye-Jin is at first excited to see him, she later becomes fearful that she will disappoint him because she is no longer the girl that he once knew. So what does she do? Well, instead of meeting him herself, Hye-Jin sends out her friend Ha-Ri to meet Sung-Joon and she has her (Ha-Ri) pretend that she is Hye-Jin. K-drama mayhem ensues from this point forward.
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
Episode 1 passed the Bechdel and race test but did not pass the Russo test.
In episode 1, women talk to each other many times, and because there are a couple of occasions where some of these women who talk to each other have names and they do not mention men in their conversations, the episode passes the Bechdel test. Episode 1 also passes the race test, and the episode passes this test because the entire cast is Asian and White people are only mentioned once or twice so there are plenty of times where non-White actors talk to each other without mentioning White people.
As to the Russo test, episode 1 does not pass this test, and the episode does not pass this test because there are no LGBTI characters 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.