The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Supergirl, “Truth, Justice and the American Way” – Season 1, Episode 14

A vigilante that killed aliens was out on the prowl on Supergirl, “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” and Kara did her best to track and capture him, all whilst dealing with the death of her aunt and Cat Grant’s ire.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Truth, Justice and the American Way” passed the Bechdel test but it did not pass the Russo or race test.

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Cat, pissed at Kara, hires a second assistant, Siobhan Smythe.

Named women (of which there were a few in “Truth, Justice and the American Way”) talked to each other a couple of times in “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” and while men were sometimes mentioned when named women talked to each other, there were also instances where named women talked to each other without mentioning men so the episode passed the Bechdel test. As to the Russo and race test, “Truth, Justice and the American Way” failed to pass both of these diversity tests.

“Truth, Justice and the American Way” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. “Truth, Justice and the American Way” did not pass the race test because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in the episode (e.g., James and Hank), there was never an instance where two or more non-White individuals talked to one another.

*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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