The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “The Last Laugh” – Season 2, Episode 3

Gordon was on the hunt for Jerome in Gotham, “The Last Laugh,” but Jerome had better things to do than to be arrested. Namely, he had a date to murder his father and to hijack Gotham Children’s Hospital gala.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Last Laugh” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

Jerome and Barbara perform a magic trick.

There were a couple of named women in “The Last Laugh” (Lee, Barbara, Selina and Tabitha), and there was a single instance where named women talked to each other (e.g., Barbara and Lee talked to each other about Gordon) but because a man was mentioned, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. “The Last Laugh” also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test despite the fact that there were two LGBTI characters (Barbara and Tabitha) in the episode who were not solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., they were both villains) because neither of them were important to the plot (seriously, if either of them had been removed from the episode, almost nothing would have changed).

As to the race test, there were a couple of non-White people in the episode and there was a single instance where some of the non-White characters talked to each other (e.g., Theo, Tabitha and Deputy Mayor Harrison talked about the missing mayor), but because a White man was mentioned in their conversation the episode did not pass the race 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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