The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: American Horror Story: Hotel, “Chutes and Ladders” – Season 5, Episode 2

A lot happened in American Horror Story: Hotel, “Chutes and Ladders.” Namely, a fashion show was hosted at the hotel; the Countess turned a model and dumped Donovan; Scarlett discovered that Holden was alive; and Iris told John the origin story of the hotel.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Chutes and Ladders” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

James March, the founder of Hotel Cortez.

“Chutes and Ladders” did not pass the Bechdel test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of occasions where named women talked to each other, men were always mentioned. The episode also failed to pass the Russo and race test, and the episode failed to pass these tests because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode (and no, Tristian is not gay as he explicitly stated that he is not) and because none of the non-White characters in the episode (of which there were several) ever spoke 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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