The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Strike Force” – Season 2, Episode 4

Cheesier than ever, in Gotham, “Strike Force,” Theo held Penguin’s mother hostage and he forced Penguin to do his dirty work; Nygma took Miss Kringle out on a date; and a new captain took over the GCPD and formed a special task force with the help of Gordon.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Strike Force” passed the Russo and race test but did not pass the Bechdel test.

Two LGBTI characters – Barbara and Tabitha – were in “Strike Force” and one passed the Russo test and the other did not.

The character who passed the Russo test was Tabitha. She passed this test because her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot (e.g., she was the reason that Penguin got to meet Theo which was one of the central plot points) and she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also a sister). Barbara, in comparison, did not pass the Russo test because while her removal from the episode would have significantly impacted the plot (e.g., Barbara was important because her presence at Theo’s home was what caused Penguin to discover that Theo was the one behind the Arkham breakout), she was solely defined by her sexuality. As to the Bechdel and race test, “Strike Force” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the race test.

“Strike Force” passed the race test because there were two instances where non-White actors talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Theo told Tabitha to turn on a TV and a Black man gave Theo an award at a ceremony). And as to why the episode did not pass the Bechdel test, well, while there were several named women in the episode, none of them ever 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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