The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: American Horror Story: Hotel, “Room 33” – Season 5, Episode 6

On American Horror Story: Hotel, “Room 33,” it was revealed that the Countess has a baby; Vendela and Agnetha searched for a purpose; Alex was determined to drive John insane; Ramona and Donovan were out for blood; and Liz and Tristan informed the Countess that they (Liz and Tristan) were in love with each other.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Room 33” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

There were two LGBTI characters, Drake and Liz, in “Room 33,” and they both passed the Russo test. Drake and Liz (and thus “Room 33”) passed the Russo test because they are both LGBTI and they were in “Room 33”; because neither were solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Drake was also defined as being a father and Liz was defined as being the Countess’ friend/minion); and because their removal from “Room 33” would have significantly impacted the plot (e.g., Liz’s removal from the episode would have significantly impacted the plot because she had her own storyline in “Room 33,” and Drake’s removal from the episode would have significantly impacted the plot because the Countess forced Tristian to perform sexual acts on Drake and this showcased how bad the Countess and Tristan’s relation was and this foreshadowed what was to become of Tristan).

As to the Bechdel and race test, “Room 33” did not pass either of these tests, and the episode did not pass these tests because while named women talked to each other a couple of times, men were always mentioned and because none of the non-White individuals in the episode (e.g., Ramona, Detective Han and Mr. Wu) ever 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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