The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: American Horror Story: Hotel, “Be Our Guest” – Season 5, Episode 12

The finale of American Horror Story: Hotel, “Be Our Guest,” aired the other night, and in the finale, all of the loose ends were wrapped up. Liz and Iris took over the hotel; John was caught and killed by the police; Will and Sally put a stop to their murdering sprees and redirected their energy towards fashion and social media; and all of the ghosts of the Cortez continued haunting and reigning over the hotel.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Be Our Guest” did not pass the race test but it did pass the Bechdel and Russo test.

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The Cortez holds a fashion show.

There were a couple of non-White individuals in “Be Our Guest” (e.g., Ramona and Ramirez), but the episode did not pass the race test because there was never an instance where anyone non-White talked to each other. The episode did, however, pass the Bechdel test.

There were several named women in “Be Our Guest” and there were several instances where some of these named women talked to each other. The episode passed the Bechdel test because of the several instances that named women talked to each other, there were two occasions where men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Billie Jean told Liz that she was thinking about filming a ghost special at the Cortez, and Ramona threatened Billie Jean). “Be Our Guest” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because of four different LGBTI characters.

There were four LGBTI characters in “Be Our Guest,” Liz, Will, the Countess and Ramona, and they all passed the Russo test because they are LGBTI and they were in “Be Our Guest”; because they were not solely defined as being LGBTI (e.g., Liz was also defined as being a businesswoman; Will was defined as being a fashion designer; the Countess was defined as being a ghost; and Ramona was defined as being a vampire); and because if any of them had been removed, the plot of “Be Our Guest” would have been significantly affected as Liz, Will, the Countess and Ramona are part of the main cast and “Be Our Guest” was all about the main cast’s ultimate fates.

*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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