The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Faking It, “Prom Scare” – Season 2, Episode 17

On Faking It, “Prom Scare,” the students of Hester High were forced to attend prom and to take a date with them. This, of course, instigated mass hysteria as all of the students attempted to find a date – Lauren, Amy, Karma and Shane included.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Prom Scare” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.

Karma and Shane say hello to their crush.

There were numerous named women in “Prom Scare” and there were several instances where some of these named women talked to each other, but men were almost always mentioned in their conversations. However, because there was one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Amy called Jasmine and asked her to go to prom with her [Amy]), “Prom Scare” passed the Bechdel test. “Prom Scare” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test due to four different LGBTI characters – Amy, Lauren, Shane and Wade.

Amy, Lauren, Shane and Wade all passed the Russo test because 1) they are all LGBTI and they were in the episode 2) because none of them were solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., they were also defined as being students) and 3) because if any of them had been removed from the episode, the plot would have significantly changed as “Prom Scare” was an ensemble episode where Amy, Lauren, Shane and Wade all played key parts.

As to the race test, “Prom Scare” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White people in the episode who spoke, there was never an occasion where any of these non-White people 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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