The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Worse Than a Crime” – Season 2, Episode 11

The mid-season finale of Gotham has come and gone, and I’ve got to say, it was pretty predictable. In the finale, “Worse Than a Crime,” Bruce was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theo; Alfred ran away from Tabitha; Theo forced his niece to make Bruce fall in love with her all over again; and Penguin persuaded Gordon to team up with him to defeat Theo.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Worse Than a Crime” did not pass the Bechdel test, but it did pass the Russo and race test.

“Worse Than a Crime” did not pass the Bechdel test, and it did not pass this test because while there were two or three instances where named women talked to each other, men were always mentioned. “Worse Than a Crime” did, however, pass the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because the one LGBTI character in the episode, Tabitha, was not defined by her sexual orientation (instead, she was defined as being Theo’s sister) and her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as she saved Silver and left her brother to be captured by the cops.

“Worse Than a Crime” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this test because while non-White individuals rarely talked to each other (and when they did, they almost always mentioned White people), there was one instance where on-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Tabitha told Theo that he had lost).

*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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