The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Awkward., “Reality Does Not Bite” – Season 5, Episode 10

Devastated about prom, on Awkward., “Reality Does Not Bite,” Jenna returned home early, but wanting to salvage her night, she returned to prom where Matty awaited her.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Reality Does Not Bite” passed the Bechdel and Russo test but did not pass the race test.

Jenna finally experiences a fairytale prom when she returns to prom and Matty confesses his love to her.

Named women talked to each other several times in “Reality Does Not Bite,” and of the several times that they talked to each other, there were two occasions where men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Lissa talked to Jenna and told her how happy she was that Jenna returned to prom and Sadie yelled at Jenna) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. “Reality Does Not Bite” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test due to four different LGBTI characters.

There were four different LGBTI characters in “Reality Does Not Bite,” and they all passed the Russo test. The LGBTI characters that were in the episode were Tamara, Theo, Cole and Drew, and they all (and thus the episode) passed the Russo test because they are LGBTI and they were in the episode; because they were not solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., they were also defined as being high school students); and because their removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot of the episode as they all played important parts in “Reality Does Not Bite” (e.g., Tamara had her own storyline in “Reality Does Not Bite” and Theo, Cole and Drew derailed prom).

In regards to the race test, “Reality Does Not Bite” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in the episode, there was never an instance where anyone non-White 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.

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