The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: iZombie, “He Blinded Me with Science” – Season 2, Episode 15

iZombie, “He Blinded Me with Science” was an episode of discoveries. Blaine learned that he was slowly dying; Major discovered that Gilda is Vaughn’s daughter; and Liv realized that a murder victim that she was investigating was connected to Vaughn and Drake that was working for Mr. Boss.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“He Blinded Me with Science” passed the Bechdel test but it did not pass the Russo or race test.

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Liv questions Vaughn.

There were very few named women in “He Blinded Me with Science” and there were even fewer instances where any of these named women talked to one another. “He Blinded Me with Science,” nonetheless, passed the Bechdel test, and the episode passed this test because there was a single instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Jenny and her named twin sister discussed the murder of a female scientist).

As to the Russo test, there were no LGBTI characters in “He Blinded Me with Science” so the episode did not pass this diversity test. “He Blinded Me with Science” also failed to pass the race test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were non-White individuals in the episode and there were instances where non-White individuals talked to each other, White people were always mentioned whenever non-White individuals conversed with 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.