The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Scream Queens, “Haunted House” – Season 1, Episode 4

In Scream Queens, “Haunted House,” Zayday announced that she was running for president of Kappa House, and to demonstrate how serious she was about wanting to become president, she threw a fundraiser and raised money by hosting a haunted house event. The Red Devil, of course, took advantage of this and used the haunted house as an opportunity to frighten the living shit out of everyone.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Haunted House” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

The Chanels and Hester retaliate against harassers.

There were many named women in “Haunted House,” and consequently, there were many instances where named women talked to each other. There were also several instances where men weren’t mentioned when named women talked to each other so the episode passed the Bechdel test. However, while “Haunted House” passed the Bechdel test, it did not pass the Russo or race test.

“Haunted House” did not pass the Russo test because there was only one LGBTI character in the episode (Sam) and her appearance in “Haunted House” was so brief and inconsequential that she was neither defined by her sexual orientation nor was she important to the plot.

As to the race test, while there were a couple of non-White people in the episode and there were two instances where some of the non-White actors talked to each other (e.g., Zayday talked to Earl about running for president and Denise and Zayday talked about Zayday’s haunted house), the episode did not pass this test because White people were mentioned both times that non-White characters talked to each other.

*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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