The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Supergirl, “Falling” – Season 1, Episode 16

"Falling" -- Kara (Melissa Benoist, pictured) turns on her friends and the citizens of National City after being exposed to Red Kryptonite makes her malicious and dangerous, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, March 14 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Things got dark on Supergirl, “Falling” when Kara suddenly and inexplicably began to act on every not-so-nice thought she has ever had and she consequently placed the people of National City in danger.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

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Kara lashes out at Siobhan.

“Falling” passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because there were many named women in the episode and there were many instances where some of these named women not only talked to each other but they did so without mentioning men. “Falling” did not pass the Russo or race test, however.

“Falling” did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in the episode. “Falling” did not pass the race test because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in the episode and there were some instances where non-White individuals conversed with one another, White people were always mentioned whenever 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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