The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Supergirl, “Manhunter” – Season 1, Episode 17

"Manhunter" -- J'onn J'onzz reveals the details of meeting Kara and Alex's father, Dr. Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain, right), and assuming Hank Henshaw's identity, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, March 21 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Frame Grab: © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

J’onn J’onzz was interrogated on Supergirl, “Manhunter,” and during his interrogation, J’onn J’onzz revealed how exactly he came to assume the identity of Hank Henshaw.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

Supergirl-Ep-17-2
J’onn J’onzz bonds with Dr. Jeremiah Danvers.

Named women (of which there were a couple in “Manhunter”) talked to each other a couple of times in “Manhunter” and while men were almost always mentioned when named women talked to each other, the episode passed the Bechdel test because there was a time or two where named women didn’t mention men when they talked to each other (e.g., teenage Alex questioned teenage Kara).

As to the Russo test, “Manhunter” did not pass this test, and the episode did not pass this diversity test because there were no LGBTI characters in “Manhunter.” “Manhunter” also failed to pass the race test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in “Manhunter,” none of these individuals ever talked to each other.

*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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