The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Master’s Sun – Season 1, Episode 1

The Master’s Sun is a K-drama about a woman who can see ghosts and a man who is obsessed with money, and in the first episode of The Master’s Sun, Kong-Sil , the woman who can see spirits, ran errands on behalf of two different ghosts.

The first ghost that Kong-Sil ran an errand on the behalf of was an elderly woman. This particular ghost wanted Kong-Sil to deliver her (the ghost’s) savings to her no good gambling son, and when Kong-Sil did so, she ended up running into Joon-Won, the president of the shopping mall Kingdom and the man who is obsessed with money.

Joon-Won wanted absolutely nothing to do with Kong-Sil, believing that she was mentally ill, and he rid himself of her as soon as he could. However, it seemed that Kong-Sil and Joon-Won were fated to know one another, for as soon as they separated, they met again and this time it was because Kong-Sil was delivering a message from a ghost to her ex-boyfriend whom was being married at Joon-Won’s mall. Joon-Won, of course, did not take any of this well as Kong-Sil’s actions were interfering with his profits and he believed that she was up to no good.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 1 passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

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A ghost sneaks up on Kong-Sil.

The entire cast of the first episode of The Master’s Sun was Asian and while White people were mentioned a time or two, the episode still passed the race test (and easily at that) since almost every conversation that occurred in the episode involved non-White individuals talking to each other without mentioning White people. The episode did not, however, pass the Bechdel and Russo test.

Women talked to each other a time or two in episode 1, but because both of the women who talked to each other never had names, the episode failed to pass the Bechdel test. The episode did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in episode 1.

*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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