The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Agent Carter, “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” – Season 2, Episode 1 and 2

Agent Carter returned with “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark,” and in this two hour premiere, Carter captured Dottie; she was sent to Los Angeles to assist (the now) Chief Sousa with a bizarre case of a frozen lake and a frozen woman; and Carter learned of an organization that was experimenting with a dangerous and unknown substance.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” passed the Bechdel test but it did not pass the Russo or race test.

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Detective Henry, Chief Sousa and Agent Carter spy a shocking scene.

There were several named women in “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” and there were several instances where some of these named women talked to each other. Of the several instances where named women talked to each other, there were three occasions where men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Carter interrogated Dottie and asked her why she had been robbing a specific bank vault; Carter and Violet had a man free chat; and Rose and Violet had a private conversation where men were not mentioned), and because of this, “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” passed the Bechdel test. As to whether or not “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” passed any of other diversity tests, “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” failed to pass both the Russo and race test.

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Carter meets an informant.

“The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. The episode did not pass the race test, despite there being several non-White individuals in “The Lady in the Lake” and “A View in the Dark,” because there was never an occasion where non-White individuals had a conversation with one another.

*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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