The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “What Did We Do?” – Season 2, Episode 9

On How to Get Away with Murder, “What Did We Do?,” it was finally revealed how Sinclair ended up dead and why (and most importantly who) shot Annalise.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“What Did We Do?” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

Frank follows Annalise’s orders.

Named women talked to each other several times on “What Did We Do?,” and because there were two instances where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Bonnie told Annalise that she was sorry about Sinclair and Annalise told Michaela to shoot her), the episode passed the Bechdel test. “What Did We Do?” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because the two LGBTI characters that were in the episode, Annalise and Connor, were not solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Annalise was also defined as being a lawyer and Connor was defined as being a law student) and because their removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as this episode was all about the main cast and these two are definitely part of the main cast.

In regards to the race test, “What Did We Do?” also passed this test (but just barely), and the episode passed this test because of the couple of times that non-White individuals talked to each other, there was a single instance where White people weren’t mentioned (e.g., Annalise asked Michaela why she hadn’t left with Caleb).

*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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