The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “Two Birds, One Millstone” – Season 2, Episode 6

On How to Get Away with Murder, “Two Birds, One Millstone,” Asher decided not to testify against Annalise; Frank introduced Laurel to his family; the Keating 5 discovered that Kaleb and Catherine’s aunt had a secret child; and Annalise represented a transgender client who killed her husband in self-defense.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Two Birds, One Millstone” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

Named women talked to each other several times in “Two Birds, One Millstone” and there were also many occasions in the episode where non-White people talked to each other, but men were almost always mentioned when named women talked to each other and White people were almost always mentioned when non-White people talked to each other. However, because there was a single instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Bonnie told Annalise that she had a phone call from Professor Jill Hartford) and non-White people talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Annalise and Nate talked about Nate’s dead wife), the episode passed the Bechdel and race test. “Two Birds, One Millstone” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test due to four different LGBTI characters.

The four LGBTI characters that passed the Russo test were Annalise, Professor Hartford, Connor and Oliver. These four passed the Russo test because they are all LGBTI and they were in “Two Birds, One Millstone”; because they were not solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Annalise was also defined as being a lawyer, Professor Hartford was defined as being a professor, Connor was defined as being a law student and Oliver was defined as being a hacker); and because their removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot of the episode as Annalise, Professor Hartford, Connor and Oliver all played important parts in “Two Birds, One Millstone” (e.g., the episode largely revolved around Annalise and Professor Hartford and Oliver made a huge discovery which significantly impacted the plot and Connor was the only one who knew that Oliver had secretly hacked into the Hapstalls’ aunt’s child’s computer).

*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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