The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: iZombie, “Love & Basketball” – Season 2, Episode 5

On iZombie, “Love & Basketball,” Liv ate the brains of a basketball coach and armed with the sudden (and effective) pep of a motivational speaker, she got Major back into shape and onto the “right” (i.e., off of drugs, not killing zombies and helping others) track.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Love & Basketball” passed the race test but did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

In “Love & Basketball,” there were a couple of non-White individuals and a couple of instances where non-White individuals talked to each other. On one occasion, non-White individuals just so happened to talk to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Suzuki’s wife told Clive that she found something of her husband’s) so the episode passed the race test.

As to the Bechdel test, “Love & Basketball” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were one or two occasions where named women talked to each other, men were always mentioned. “Love & Basketball” also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode.

*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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