The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: American Horror Story: Hotel, “Checking In” – Season 5, Episode 1

AMERICAN HORROR STORY -- "Checking In" Episode 501 (Airs Wednesday, October 7, 10:00 pm/ep) Pictured: Wes Bentley as John Lowe. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

The new American Horror Story: Hotel, premiered tonight, and in the first episode, “Checking In,” a super creepy hotel where fucked up shit happens and a detective who is investigating a serial killer were introduced.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Checking In” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

Will Drake buys Hotel Cortez.

There were several named women in “Checking In” and there were several occasions where some of these named women talked to each other without mentioning men so the episode passed the Bechdel test. The episode did not, however, pass either the Russo or race test, and “Checking In” did not pass these tests because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode and because there was only one non-White person in “Checking In” who had a speaking part.

*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.