The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Empire, “Et Tu, Brute?” – Season 2, Episode 10

On Empire, “Et Tu, Brute?” Jamal experienced success at an award show; Cookie returned to her old prison and she had Hakeem and Laura perform for the inmates; and when Lucious publically announced that he was taking over Swift Stream, Mimi led a hostile takeover of Empire and she kicked Lucious out of the company.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Et Tu, Brute?” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

empire-season-2-episode-10-hakeem
Hakeem makes an appearance at Cookie’s old prison.

Named women talked to each other a couple of times in “Et Tu, Brute?” and while they almost always mentioned men in their conversations, there was one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Cookie told Porsha that she should take a comment that a female prison inmate had made as a compliment) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. The episode also passed the race and Russo test.

“Et Tu, Brute?” passed the race test because there were several occasions where non-White individuals talked to each other, and the episode passed the Russo test because there were two LGBTI characters in “Et Tu, Brute?” (i.e., Jamal and Mimi) who were not solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Jamal was also defined as being a musician and Mimi was defined as being a businesswoman) and whose removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot of “Et Tu, Brute?” as they were part of the episode’s main storylines. Henthrop and Camilla (who is now married to Mimi) were also in the episode but neither of them passed the Russo test as Henthrop’s removal from “Et Tu, Brute?” would not have significantly affected the plot as he was not a major player in “Et Tu, Brute?” and Camilla didn’t pass the Russo test because she appeared to be married to Mimi for only strategic reasons and not because she (Camilla) is bi- or pansexual (until it is definitively known that she is LGBTI, Camilla will not be considered a LGBTI character).

*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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