The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “By Fire” – Season 2, Episode 6

On Gotham, “By Fire,” Butch infiltrated Theo’s crime network and Selina and Bridgit teamed up to pull a heist in order to fund Bridgit’s escape from the police.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“By Fire” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

Butch tells Theo what Penguin did to him and begs for a job.

“By Fire” just barely passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because of the few times that named women talked to each other, there was one instance where men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Lee told Selina that she was cute). As to the Russo and race test, “By Fire” did not pass either of these tests.

There were two LGBTI characters, Barbara and Tabitha, in “By Fire” but neither of these characters passed the Russo test because while they were not defined by their sexual orientation, neither of their removals from the episode would have significantly affected the plot of the episode as their parts in the episode weren’t large or significant enough to truly impact the plot (and yes, Tabitha did torture Butch, but if she had been removed from the episode, not much would have really changed as Butch still would have found Penguin’s mother even if she hadn’t tortured him).

 In regards to the race test, “By Fire” did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White people in the episode who occasionally talked to each other, White people were always mentioned.

*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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