The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Mommy’s Little Monster” – Season 2, Episode 7

On Gotham, “Mommy’s Little Monster,” Butch betrayed Penguin in favor of Theo. The result of Butch’s betrayal? Penguin’s mother’s death.

Determined to exact revenge, when Theo won the office of mayor, Penguin decided to pay Theo a little visit and he crashed his (Theo’s) congratulatory party. Suffice to say, blood was spilled.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Mommy’s Little Monster” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

Selina warns Bruce and tells him that something is definitely off with Silver.

One LGBTI character, Tabitha, was in “Mommy’s Little Monster,” and because of her, the episode passed the Russo test. And how, exactly, did the episode pass the Russo test? Well, “Mommy’s Little Monster” passed the Russo test because Tabitha, a LGBTI character, was in the episode; because Tabitha was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being Theo’s sister and as being a killer); and because her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as she played an important part in the episode (e.g., she shot Penguin). As to the Bechdel and race test, “Mommy’s Little Monster” did not pass either of these tests.

“Mommy’s Little Monster” did not pass the Bechdel test because the two times that named women talked to each other, men were mentioned (e.g., Selina and Silver talked to each other on two separate occasions and they mentioned Bruce on both occasions). And then in the case of the race test, “Mommy’s Little Monster” did not pass this test because the three times that non-White people talked to each other, White people were mentioned (e.g., Theo and Tabitha talked to each other on three separate occasions and on each occasion they either mentioned Penguin or Penguin’s mother).

*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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