The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Agent Carter, “Smoke and Mirrors” – Season 2, Episode 4

On Agent Carter, “Smoke and Mirrors,” Agent Carter and Frost’s origin stories were told and the audience learned how exactly Carter became an agent and how Frost became an actress.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Smoke and Mirrors” passed the Bechdel test but it did not pass the Russo or race test.

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Carter prepares for her wedding and tries on her wedding gown.

Women talked to each other a couple of times in “Smoke and Mirrors,” and of the couple of times that women talked to each other, there was one instance where both of the women talking to each other had names and they did not mention men while talking to each other (e.g., Mabel informed Frost of a package that had been delivered to the house) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. As to the Russo and race test, “Smoke and Mirrors” did not pass either of these diversity tests.

“Smoke and Mirrors” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. “Smoke and Mirrors” did not pass the race test because while there were a few non-White individuals in the episode (e.g., Mabel and Wilkes), there was never an instance where anyone non-White 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.

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