The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “Something Bad Happened” – Season 2, Episode 13

Annalise turned to the law to get Philip off of her and her interns’ backs on How to Get Away with Murder, “Something Bad Happened,” and Wes spiraled as he became convinced that he had killed his mother.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Something Bad Happened” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

How to Get Away With Murder - Episode 2.13 - Something Bad Happened.jpg
Eve helps Annalise with Rose.

“Something Bad Happened” passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because while men were almost always mentioned in the few instances that named women conversed with one another in “Something Bad Happened,” there was one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Eve and Rose discussed Rose’s immigration case). As to the Russo and race test, “Something Bad Happened” also passed these diversity tests.

There were four LGBTI characters in “Something Bad Happened,” Annalise, Eve, Connor and Oliver, and the episode easily passed the Russo test because all four of these characters were not solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Annalise and Eve were also defined as being lawyers, Connor was defined as being a law student and Oliver was defined as being a criminal) and their removal from “Something Bad Happened” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as the episode revolved around Annalise and Eve’s involvement in Rose’s death and the Keating Five’s (plus Oliver’s) safety.

In the case of the race test, “Something Bad Happened” passed this diversity test because there were many instances where non-White individuals (of which there were many in “Something Bad Happened”) talked to each other without mentioning White people.

*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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