The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Supergirl, “Livewire” – Season 1, Episode 4

On Supergirl, “Livewire,” Livewire was born and she wreaked havoc on National City and sought revenge against Cat, her employer and mentor. Kara, of course, did her best to stop Livewire, and she did this on top of trying to keep relations between her mother and sister, who had a tense relationship, civil.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

Winn thanks Kara for inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner.

There were several named women in “Livewire” and there were several occasions where some of these named women talked to each other without mentioning men so the episode passed the Bechdel test. The episode did not, however, pass either the Russo or race test, and the episode did not pass these tests because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode and because the couple of non-White individuals in the episode (e.g., James and Henshaw) never spoke 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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