The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: American Horror Story: Hotel, “Devil’s Night” – Season 5, Episode 4

On American Horror Story: Hotel, “Devil’s Night,” Alex learned what had happened to her son, and famous, dead serial killers converged at the Hotel Cortez.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Devil’s Night” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

John is a special guest at Mr. March’s Devil’s Night Soiree.

There was one LGBTI character in “Devil’s Night” (the Countess), and this character met all of the requirements of the Russo test as she is LGBTI and she was in the episode; she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being a vampire and a mother); and her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as she is a main character and she played an important role in this episode (e.g., she revealed to Alex what had happened to Holden), so she (and thus the episode) passed the Russo test. “Devil’s Night” did not, however, pass either the Bechdel or race test.

There were two instances in “Devil’s Night” where women talked to each other and had a conversation, and while these women had names, they always (indirectly or directly) referenced men and boys (e.g., the Countess and Alex talked on two separate occasions about how Alex must have a lot of questions about Holden and how John neglected Holden) so the episode did not pass the Bechdel test.

As to why the episode did not pass the race test, there was only one non-White person (Ramirez) in “Devil’s Night” so the episode was obviously unable to meet the requirements of 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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