The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “What Happened to You, Annalise?” – Season 2, Episode 10

On How to Get Away with Murder, “What Happened to You, Annalise?,” it was revealed that Annalise had survived her gunshot wound.

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Annalise hallucinates that a woman comes to her door and leaves her with a baby.

Annalise was recovering nicely from her physical wound on “What Happened to You, Annalise?” so she was released from the hospital. However, while Annalise was doing well physically, the same could not be said when it came to her mental state. To be more specific, Annalise was unraveling at the seams mentally, experiencing both PTSD symptoms and hallucinations.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“What Happened to You, Annalise?” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

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Catherine goes to court for supposedly shooting Annalise.

There were several named women in “What Happened to You, Annalise?” and while there were several instances in the episode where some of the named women talked to one another, men were always referenced when named women talked to each other so the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. “What Happened to You, Annalise?” did, however, pass the Russo and race test.

“What Happened to You, Annalise?” passed the Russo test because of Annalise. To be more specific, the episode passed the Russo test because Annalise met all of the Russo tests requirements as she is LGBTI; she was in “What Happened to You, Annalise?”; she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being a lawyer); and her removal from “What Happened to You, Annalise?” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as “What Happened to You, Annalise?” largely revolved around her.*****

As to the race test, “What Happened to You, Annalise?” passed this test because there were a couple of instances in the episode where some of the numerous non-White individuals that were in “What Happened to You, Annalise?” talked to each other without mentioning White people.

*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.

*****There were two other LGBTI characters in “What Happened to You, Annalise?”  – Connor and Oliver – but the episode would not have passed the Russo test based solely on their presence as they did not meet all of the Russo test’s requirements. Connor, for example, while not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also defined as being a friend), did not contribute much to the plot of the episode so if he had been removed, not much would have changed, and Oliver was solely defined by his sexual orientation in “What Happened to You, Annalise?” and his removal from the episode wouldn’t have significantly affected the plot as he, like Connor, did not add much to the plot.

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