The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: iZombie, “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” – Season 2, Episode 11

iZombie, “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” was a lust and suspense-filled episode. In “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter,” Liv sexually harassed every man she came across due to the fact that she had eaten the brains of an erotica writer; Clive and Bozzio activated Major’s dog’s GPS tracker and they brought in Blaine for questioning; and Peyton and Blaine’s professional relationship took a turn for the sexual.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

iZombie - Episode 2.11 - Fifty Shades of Grey Matter - Promotional Photo
Liv comforts Peyton after she has made an uncomfortable discovery.

Named women talked to each other a couple of times in “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter,” but because men were always referenced whenever named women talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” also failed to pass the Russo and race test.

“Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” 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 a couple of non-White individuals in “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” (e.g., Ravi and Clive) and there were some instances in the episode where non-White individuals talked to each other, White people were always mentioned 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.

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