The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Awkward., “An Indecent Promposal” – Season 5, Episode 8

On Awkward., “An Indecent Promposal,” love was in the air as everyone promposed to their dates. However, despite the happy occasion, not everyone was happy in “An Indecent Promposal.” Namely, Jenna was freaked out because she didn’t want Matty to invite her to prom and Tamara was anti-prom due to her recent breakup.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“An Indecent Promposal” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but it did not pass the race test.

“An Indecent Promposal” passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because of the many times that named women talked to each other, there were three instances where men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Tamara, Jenna and Sadie talked about prom, Jenna and Tamara brainstormed ways to get out of prom and Jenna promposed to Tamara). “An Indecent Promposal” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test due to four LGBTI characters.

Tamara, who is LGBTI, Theo, Cole and a gay guy from their high school was in “An Indecent Promposal,” and they all passed the Russo test because none of them were solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., they were all also defined as being high school students) and because their removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot (Tamara’s removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot, for example, because she was part of the main plotline of “An Indecent Proposal,” and Theo, Cole and the gay high school guy’s removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot because Cole’s interest in the high school gay guy motivated Theo to ask Lissa, a main character, to prom and this was a subplot to “An Indecent Promosal”).

As to the race test, “An Indecent Promposal” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because the only two non-White people in the episode who had speaking parts, Gabby and Sergio, never 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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