The Originals returned last night, and in its newest episode, “A Ghost Along the Mississippi,” Cami was given the choice of either dying or living as a vampire; Tristan orchestrated a coup; Hyaley and Jackson were abducted and tortured; and the Mikaelsons ensnared the de Martels in the most perfect of traps.
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“A Ghost Along the Mississippi” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.
There were a couple of named women in “A Ghost Along the Mississippi” and there were a couple of occasions in the episode where some of these named women talked to each other, but because men were always referenced whenever named women talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. “A Ghost Along the Mississippi” also failed to pass the Russo and race test.
“A Ghost Along the Mississippi” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. The episode did not pass the race test because while there were non-White individuals in the episode (e.g., Marcel, Vincent and Aya) and there were a few instances where some of the non-White individuals in the episode talked to each other (e.g., Vincent criticized a Black witch for siding with Tristan and Marcel advised Aya to not fight against the Mikaelsons), White people were always referenced whenever non-White individuals talked 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 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.