The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Master’s Sun – Season 1, Episode 11

Chairwoman Lee (the chairwoman of Kingdom’s competitor) died on the 11th episode of The Master’s Sun, and Lee (as a spirit) appeared before Kong-Sil asking her to destroy photos of a secret woman on Lee’s camera.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 11 did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

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Joong-Won tries to read the children’s book that Kong-Sil is always talking about.

Named women talked to each other a few times in episode 11, but the episode did not pass the Bechdel test because men were always mentioned whenever named women talked to each other. Episode 11 did, however, pass the Russo test.

Normally, anything LGBTI related is never mentioned let alone featured in a K-drama, but in the 11th episode of The Master’s Sun, there was a transgender character and this character played a large part in the episode. The transgender character in question is Lee, and Lee (and thus the episode) passed the Russo test because she LGBTI and she was in episode 11; because she was not solely defined by her gender identity (e.g., she was also defined as being a parent and as a businesswomen); and because if she had been removed from the episode, episode 11’s plot would have been significantly affected as the episode largely revolved around Lee. Episode 11 also passed the race test, and the episode easily passed this test as the entire cast was Asian and none of the characters ever mentioned White people (which means that only non-White individuals ever talked to each other and they did so without ever mentioning White people).

*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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