The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“The Deep End” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.
“The Deep End” passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because of the many times that named women talked to each other, there were several occasions where some of these named women talked to each other without mentioning men. “The Deep End” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because of three different LGBTI characters.
The three LGBTI characters in “The Deep End” that passed the Russo test were Amy, Lauren and Shane, and these three passed the Russo test because they are LGBTI and they were in “The Deep End”; because they were not solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Amy and Lauren were also defined as being sisters and Shane was defined as being a brother); and because their removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as they are all major cast members and they all played big parts in “The Deep End.” Wade, who is a LGBTI character, was also in “The Deep End” and his removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as he played an important part in Karma and Shane’s storyline, but because he was solely defined by his sexual orientation in “The Deep End,” he did not pass the Russo test.
In regards to the race test, “The Deep End” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White people in the episode who had speaking parts, none of these individuals 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.