The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “This Ball of Mud and Meanness” – Season 2, Episode 14

On Gotham, “This Ball of Mud and Meanness,” Penguin was deemed “sane” on Gotham and he was thusly released from Arkham, and Bruce hunted down his parents’ murderer.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“This Ball of Mud and Meanness” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

gotham-episode-14-synopsis
Gordon tries to dissuade Bruce from killing his parents’ murderer.

There were four named women in “This Ball of Mud and Meanness,” Lee, Selina, Peabody and Jeri, and because none of these women ever talked to one another (in fact, no women, whether named or unnamed, ever talked to one another), the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. “This Ball of Mud and Meanness” also filed to pass the Russo and race test.

“This Ball of Mud and Meanness” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. “This Ball of Mud and Meanness” did not pass the race test because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in the episode and there were instances where some of the non-White cast members talked to one another, White people were always mentioned whenever non-White individuals conversed.

*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.