The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “Skanks Get Shanked” – Season 2, Episode 4

Annalise met with Nate’s wife on How to Get Away with Murder, “Skanks Get Shanked,” and she took on a teenage client who stabbed her best friend to death.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Skanks Get Shanked” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

Catherine agrees to undergo a “virginity test.”

There were several named women and non-White people in “Skanks Get Shanked” and there were many instances where some of these named women talked to each other and non-White people talked to each other. While men were often mentioned when named women talked to each other and White people were often referenced when non-White characters talked to each other, there were several moments where men weren’t mentioned when named women talked to each other and White people weren’t mentioned when non-White people talked to each other so “Skanks Get Shanked” passed the Bechdel and race test. “Skanks Get Shanked” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test due to two LGBTI characters – Annalise and Connor.

Annalise passed the Russo test because she is LGBTI and she was in “Skanks Get Shanked”; because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also a lawyer); and because her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as she was one of the main characters in the episode. As to Connor, he passed the Russo test because he is LGBTI and he was in the episode; because he was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also a law student); and because his removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as he was part of one of the main plot twists in “Skanks Get Shanked.”

*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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