The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Madame Antoine – Season 1, Episode 1

Madame Antoine, starring Han Ye-Seul and Sung Joon, is a new K-drama about a fortune teller who claims to channel Marie Antoinette and a jackass psychologist who is determined to prove that love is not real.

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Soo-Hyun explains his reasoning behind a psychological study.

In the first episode of Madame Antoine, Soo-Hyun (Sung), a psychologist, moved his clinic into the same building as a fortune telling café.

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Soo-Hyun picks a fight with Hye-Rim and she refuses to back down.

When Soo-Hyun moved his clinic, he wasn’t originally aware that the café below him was of the fortune telling variety, and when he discovered its true nature, he was not pleased. Soo-Hyun attempted to kick out Hye-Rim (Han), the fortune teller, but his attempts backfired and instead of ridding himself of her, Soo-Hyun wound up working with Hye-Rim, for better or for worse.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 1 passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

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Soo-Hyun visits Hye-Rim under the guise of a paying customer, and through a bizarre turn of events, Hye-Rim winds up working for Soo-Hyun.

The entire cast of episode 1, save for one White individual, was Asian and while there were a few instances in the episode where non-White individuals talked to or about White people, there were also many instances where only non-White individuals talked to each other and they did so without mentioning White people. Episode 1 consequently passed the race test.

As to whether or not episode 1 passed the Bechdel test, the episode did not pass this test, and episode 1 did not pass this test because even though there were a few named women in the episode and there were a couple of instances where women talked to each other, there was never an instance where both of the women who were talking to each other had names. Episode 1 also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because there were no LGBTI characters in episode 1.

*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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