The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Mr. Freeze” – Season 2, Episode 12

In the returning episode of Gotham, “Mr. Freeze,” Gordon appeared before a committee and he explained his involvement in the Bruce Wayne rescue; Penguin was arrested and sent to Arkham; and a cryogenic engineer went about freezing and kidnapping the people of Gotham.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Mr. Freeze” passed the Russo test but it did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

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Penguin is not pleased with his new home.

There was one LGBTI character in “Mr. Freeze,” Tabitha, and because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being a criminal) and her removal from “Mr. Freeze” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot (e.g., her removal from “Mr. Freeze” would have affected the episode’s plot because her presence in the episode was a foreshadowing for the rest of the season), “Mr. Freeze” passed the Russo test. As to the Bechdel and race test, “Mr. Freeze” did not pass either of these diversity tests.

“Mr. Freeze” did not pass the Bechdel test because while there were four named women in the episode (Lee, Nora, Tabitha and Peabody), none of these women ever talked to each other. The episode did not pass the race test because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in “Mr. Freeze” and there was even an instance where non-White individuals talked to one another (e.g., Dr. Strange and Peabody discussed Mr. Freeze), White people were mentioned the one time that non-White individuals talked to one another.

*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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