The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Welcome to Me

Welcome to Me, starring Kristen Wiig, is the tale of a woman with a mental illness who wins the lottery.

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Alice Klieg.

Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a mental illness that involves symptoms like emotional instability, impulsiveness  and impaired social relationships. Alice has been doing relatively well, metal health wise, as she has been managing her disorder through medication and talk therapy. However, when Alice simultaneously goes off of her meds and she wins the lottery, things get messy and Alice’s life slowly, but surely, spirals out of control.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Welcome to Me passes the Bechdel test but it does not pass the Russo or race test.

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Alice discusses her new fortune with her family and friends.

There are several women (some of whom have names) in Welcome to Me and there are several instances in the film where some of the female characters talk to each other. Of the many instances that women speak to each other in Welcome to Me, there are a couple of occasions where the women have names and they do not mention men when they talk to each other so the film passes the Bechdel test. As to the Bechdel and Russo test, Welcome to Me does not pass either of these diversity tests.

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Alice opens and hosts a new talk show, Welcome to Me, that is about her, Alice Klieg.

There are two LGBTI characters in Welcome to Me – Ted (Alan Tudyk), Alice’s former lover, and Derek (Mitch Silpa), Ted’s current lover. These two LGBTI characters (and thus the film) do not pass the Russo test because while Ted is not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he is also defined as being hedge fund manager), Derek is and neither Ted nor Derek’s removal from the film would significantly affect the film’s plot as their characters do not considerably add to the plot of Welcome to Me.

In regards to why Welcome to Me does not pass the race test, this is because the couple of non-White individuals that are in the film never speak 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 film 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 film 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 film. 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 film.

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