The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: American Horror Story: Hotel, “Flicker” – Season 5, Episode 7

On American Horror Story: Hotel, “Flicker,” the Countess’ origin story was revealed and the audience learned who she used to be, how she became a vampire and how she met Mr. March; unknown creatures were released from the bowels of the hotel; and John got one step closer to figuring out the identity of the 10 Commandments killer.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

The Countess’ past comes back to haunt her.

There were three LGBTI characters in “Flicker,” Drake, the Countess and Natacha, and one of these characters did not pass the Russo test and the other two (and thus the episode) did.

Drake did not pass the Russo test, and he didn’t pass this test because while he wasn’t solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also defined as being a fashion designer), his removal from the episode wouldn’t have significantly affected the plot as he didn’t have much to do with the plot. The Countess and Natacha, on the other hand, did pass the Russo test, and they passed this test because they weren’t solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., they were also defined as being actresses and vampires) and because their removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as “Flicker” was mostly about the Countess and Natacha’s part in (the Countess’) past.

In regards to the Bechdel test, “Flicker” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of occasions where women talked, there was never an instance where two named women talked to each other. And as to the race test, “Flicker” also did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because the two or three non-White individuals in the episode 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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