The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Supergirl, “Fight or Flight” – Season 1, Episode 3

Kara was faced with a new foe on Supergirl, “Fight or Flight,” and this foe was particularly important to Kara as he was a human who Superman had previously fought and been unable to defeat. Translation? If Kara was able to defeat this foe then she would cement her status as a superhero and as Superman’s equal, but if she was unable to defeat the villain, then she would forever be stuck in her cousin’s shadow.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Fight or Flight” passed the Bechdel test but did not pass the Russo or race test.

Kara meets Lucy, Louise Lane’s sister.

“Fight or Flight” passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because while men were often mentioned the couple of times that named women talked to each other, there were two instances where named women talked to each other without mentioning men. Cat and Kara, for example, talked to each other once about a sound and Kara and Lucy introduced themselves to each other.

As to the Russo and race test, “Fight or Flight” did not pass either of these tests, and the episode did not pass these tests because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode and because the non-White individuals in “Fight or Flight” (James and Henshaw) never 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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