The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test – Descendants of the Sun – Season 1, Episode 1

In the first episode of Descendants of the Sun, a new K-drama about a soldier and doctor who fall in love, Shi-Jin was having a rough day.


Shi-Jin is the captain of a UN peacekeeping troop, and on his day off, he, alongside his fellow officer, Dae-Young, encountered a thief. The two, of course, apprehended the thief, but in the process, Dae-Young’s phone was stolen by the very thief that he had help apprehend. Shi-Jin and Dae-Young thus had to chase down the thief all over again and once they located him at a hospital, they only encountered even more problems. However, Shi-Jin didn’t consider the day to be a complete loss  as he found that he quite enjoyed one of the problems that he encountered. Namely, a Doctor Kang Mo-Yeon who absolutely refused to deal with his sass.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 1 passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

Shi-Jin flirts with Mo-Yeon.



Episode 1 passed the race test, and the episode passed this test because there were many times where non-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning someone White as the entire cast was Asian and none of the characters ever mentioned anyone White. As to the Bechdel and Russo test, episode 1 did not pass either of these diversity tests.

There were a few named women in episode 1, and while there were a couple of occasions where named women talked to one another, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test because men were always referenced whenever named women talked to each other. Episode 1 did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode.

*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.