The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Prisoners” – Season 2, Episode 16

GOTHAM: Ben McKenzie (C) and Donal Logue (R) in the “Wrath of the Villains: Prisoners” episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, March 28 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

On Gotham, “Prisoners,” Gordon was moved to general pop (a death sentence as sure as any), and while Gordon did his best to survive his environment, Penguin grew ever closer to his father, inciting resentment in his step-mother and step-siblings.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Prisoners” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

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Grace secretly plots to remove Penguin from her home and life.

There were two named women in “Prisoners,” Sasha and Grace, and while there was a time or two where these women talked to each other, “Prisoners” failed to pass the Bechdel test and the episode did not pass this test because men were always mentioned whenever Sasha and Grace talked to each other.

“Prisoners” also failed to pass the Russo and race test. The reason? There were no LGBTI characters in “Prisoners,” and while there were a couple of non-White individuals in the episode, two or more non-White individuals never 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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