The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Awkward., “Best Friends for Never” – Season 5, Episode 16

On Awkward., “Best Friends for Never,” Jenna and Luke kept their relationship on the DL; Sadie did her best to make Sergio jealous; and Tamara began working with Jenna and joined the Idea Bin team.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Best Friends for Never” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

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Jenna and Luke squeeze in some secret make out time.

There were many named women in “Best Friends for Never,” and because there were a couple of instances where some of these named women talked to each other without mentioning men, the episode passed the Bechdel test.

“Best Friends for Never” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because there were two LGBTI characters in “Best Friends for Never,” Tamara and one of Jenna’s co-workers, and one of these characters (Tamara) was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined as being an employee) and her removal from “Best Friends for Never” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as she played a large part in one of the episode’s main plots.*****

As to the race test, there were a couple of non-White individuals in “Best Friends for Never” and because there was a single instance where two or more non-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., Sergio informed his girlfriend of an order), the episode passed the race test.

*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.

*****If Jenna’s gay coworker had been the only LGBTI character in “Best Friends for Never,” the episode would not have passed the Russo test as while he was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also defined as being a writer), his removal from the episode would not have significantly affected the plot as he had nothing to do with the episode’s plot.

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