The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Scarification” – Season 2, Episode 5

On Gotham, “Scarification,” Gordon and Dr. Thompkins went on a double date with Nygma and Miss Kringle; Penguin discovered Theo’s weakness; and Firefly, a new villain, was born.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Scarification” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

​There were a few named women and girls in “Scarification” who occasionally spoke to each other. Of the couple of times that named women and girls talked to each other, there were two occasions where men weren’t mentioned (e.g., on two separate occasions, Selina and Bridgit talked about the weather and Selina told Bridgit to follow her) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. “Scarification” also passed the Russo and race test.

In the case of the Russo test, “Scarification” passed this test because Tabitha, who is LGBTI, was in the episode; because she was not solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., she was also defined as being Theo’s sister and as being a villain); and because her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as she was the one who told Penguin to burn down several buildings and this (i.e., Penguin burning down buildings) was a huge factor in the episode’s plotline.

As to the race test, non-White people talked to each other on maybe three different occasions, and on one of those occasions, White people were not mentioned (e.g., Theo talked to Bunderslaw about Wayne Enterprises) so the episode passed the race test.

*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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