The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” – Season 2, Episode 13

Things were afoot in Gotham, “A Dead Man Feels No Cold.” In the episode, Bruce discovered the identity of the man who killed his parents; Dr. Strange tortured Penguin; Victor demanded the release of his wife; and Gordon setup a trap for Victor.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“A Dead Man Feels No Cold” passed the Bechdel test but it did not pass the Russo or race test.

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Lee informs Nora that she is in a hospital.

Named women (of which there were a few in “A Dead Man Feels No Cold”) talked to each other a couple of times in “A Dead Man Feels No Cold,” almost always referencing men in their conversations, but the episode nonetheless passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because there was one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Peabody asked Lee if she minded sharing the hospital ward with Barbara). “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” did not, however, pass either the Russo or race test.

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Victor’s death has gone terribly awry. Namely, he’s not dead.

“A Dead Man Feels No Cold” did not pass the Russo test because while there was one LGBTI character in the episode, Barbara, and she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being a coma patient), her removal from “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” would not have significantly affected the episode’s plot as she had nothing to do with the plot of “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” and her presence in the episode was more incidental than anything.

As to the race test, while there were non-White individuals in “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” and there were some instances where non-White individuals talked to one another, the episode did not pass the race test because whenever non-White individuals conversed with one another, White people were referenced.

*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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