The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Thirty-Five” – Season 2, Episode 13

Jane and Michael got back together on Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Thirty-Five,” but not everyone (ahem, Rafael, anyone?) was happy with their reunion. To be more specific, Rafael was seriously jealous when he learned of Jane and Michael’s renewed relationship, and he took out his sore feelings on not only Jane and Michael but on Petra as well.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Chapter Thirty-Five” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

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Rafael and Jane fight over Michael during a swim lesson.

There were several instances in “Chapter Thirty-Five” where named women (of which there were several in the episode) talked to each other, and on two of those occasions, men weren’t mentioned (e.g., Luisa and Barnett discussed Barnett going back to work and Jane called out to her mother and asked her what she was doing) so the episode passed the Bechdel test. “Chapter Thirty-Five” also passed the Russo and race test.

There were two LGBTI characters in “Chapter Thirty-Five” – Luisa and Barnett – and the episode passed the Russo test because one of these characters (Luisa) met all of the Russo test’s requirements. To be more specific, the episode passed the Russo test because Luisa is LGBTI and she was in “Chapter Thirty-Five”; because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being an alcoholic; and because her removal from “Chapter Thirty-Five” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as she had her own subplot in “Chapter Thirty-Five.”*****

“Chapter Thirty-Five” passed the race test because there were several instances where non-White individuals 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 Barnett had been the only LGBTI character in “Chapter Thirty-Five” the episode would not have passed the Russo test as while Barnett was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being a detective), her removal from the episode wouldn’t have significantly affected the plot (and yes, some changes would have occurred if she had been removed but they wouldn’t have been especially big or significant).

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