The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Supergirl, “Hostile Takeover” – Season 1, Episode 8

Two major storylines occurred in Supergirl, “Hostile Takeover.” In one, Kara ended Astra’s reign of terror and she (Kara) discovered exactly why her aunt had been imprisoned, and in the other, Kara prevented a hostile takeover of Cat Co. Kara seemed to be successful in both of these endeavors, but she only truly succeeded in one. The question is, in which of these did she succeed?

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

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Cat Grant is hacked.

Named women talked to each other several times in episode 8 and there were several occasions where men weren’t mentioned when named women talked to each other so the episode passed the Bechdel test. The episode did not, however, pass either the Russo or race test.

“Hostile Takeover” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. The episode did not pass the race test, despite the fact that there were at least two non-White individuals in the episode (e.g., James and Henshaw), because non-White individuals never talked 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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