Everyone was determined to off the Countess on American Horror Story: Hotel, “Battle Royale,” and the question was, would anyone succeed, and if so, whom would it be?
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“Battle Royale” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.
Named women talked to each other on many occasions in “Battle Royale,” and of the many times that named women talked to each other, there were a couple of instances where men weren’t mentioned so the episode passed the Bechdel test. The episode also passed the Russo and race test.
There were three LGBTI characters (Liz, Ramona and the Countess) in “Battle Royale,” and they all passed the Russo test. These three characters passed the Russo test because they are LGBTI and they were in “Battle Royale”; because they weren’t solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Liz was also defined as being a killer and Ramona and the Countess were defined as being vampires); and because if they had been removed from “Battle Royale” the plot of the episode would have been significantly affected as these women all played large and important parts in “Battle Royale” (e.g., the episode was all about how everyone wanted to kill the Countess and Liz and Ramona were some of the main players trying to kill the Countess).
“Battle Royale” passed the race test because in the one instance that the two non-White individuals (Queenie and Ramona) in the episode talked to each other, White people weren’t mentioned (e.g., when Ramona was trying to kill Queenie, Queenie told Ramona that she could not be killed).
*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.