Annalise was in a serious funk on How to Get Away with Murder, “She Hates Us,” and she struggled to not only control her interns but to find the will to work as well.
The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test
“She Hates Us” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.
There were several named women in “She Hates Us” and there were several instances in the episode where some of these named women talked to each other. The episode did not, however, pass the Bechdel test, and the episode did not pass this test because whenever named women talked to each other, men were referenced. “She Hates Us” did, however, pass the Russo and race test.
There were three LGBTI characters in “She Hates Us,” Annalise, Connor and Oliver, and the episode passed the Russo test because two of these characters, Annalise and Connor, met all of the Russo test’s requirements. To be a little bit more specific, the episode passed the Russo test because Annalise and Connor are LGBTI and they were in “She Hates Us”; because they were not solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Annalise was also defined as being a lawyer and Connor was defined as being a friend); and because their removal from “She Hates Us” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as the episode was largely about Annalise and a small subplot revolved around Connor and his relationship with Asher and Oliver.*****
As to the race test, “She Hates Us” passed this test because there were several non-White individuals in the episode and there were a couple of occasions where some of these talked to each other without mentioning anyone White.
*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.
*****If Oliver had been the only LGBTI character in the episode, “She Hates Us” would not have passed the Russo test because while his removal from the episode would have significantly affected the plot as he was part of a subplot that involved Connor and Asher, he didn’t meet all of the Russo test’s requirements as he was solely defined by his sexual orientation.