The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Faking It, “Nuclear Prom” – Season 2, Episode 18

Armageddon, also known as prom, arrived on Faking It, “Nuclear Prom,” and Amy kissed Felix; Karma, Shane and Wade decided to have a threesome; Liam and Sasha hooked up; and Lauren broke it off with Theo.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Nuclear Prom” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.

“Nuclear Prom” passed the Bechdel test but just barely. The episode passed this test because there was a single instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Leila cursed at Lauren at the prom). Every other time that named women talked to each other (and there were only a few instances where named women talked to each other), men were mentioned so those conversations did not pass the Bechdel test.

As to the Russo test, “Nuclear Prom” passed this test, and the episode passed this test because there were four LGBTI characters that passed all of the Russo test’s requirements. The LGBTI characters who passed this test were Amy, Lauren, Shane and Wade, and they all passed this test because 1) they are all LGBTI and they were in the episode 2) because none of them were solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Amy, Lauren, Shane and Wade were also defined as being high school students) and 3) because Amy, Lauren, Shane and Wade’s removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as Lauren, Amy, Shane and Wade were all part of the episode’s main plotline.

The only diversity test that “Nuclear Prom” did not pass was the race test, and the episode did not pass this test because none of the three non-White people in the episode who had speaking parts 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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