The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Descendants of the Sun – Season 1, Episode 4

On Descendants of the Sun, episode 4, Mo-Yeon saved her patient’s life but not without consequences. Namely, Shi-Jin was demoted and he was forced to face trial for his actions in her surgery debacle.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 4 passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

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Shi-Jin awaits his trial for insubordination. 

There were a few White individuals in episode 4, but the cast was primarily non-White so there were many instances where non-White individuals not only talked to one another, but they did so without mentioning anyone White. Episode 4 thus passed the race test.

As to the Bechdel test, there were a couple of named women in episode 4 and there were a few instances where some of these named women talked to each other, but because men were always referenced whenever named women talked to one another, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. Episode 4 also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because there were no LGBTI characters in episode 4.

*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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