The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Empire, “A Rose by Any Other Name” – Season 2, Episode 12

On Empire, “A Rose by Any Other Name,” Andre’s mental health condition began to regress; Cookie had to work around Camilla and all of her attempts to derail her; and Jamal was determined to regain his family’s trust and to dethrone Camilla.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“A Rose by Any Other Name” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

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Camilla and Cookie talk budgets.

There were several named women in “A Rose by Any Other Name,” and while there were occasions where some of these named women talked to each other, “A Rose by Any Other Name” did not pass the Bechdel test and the episode did not pass this test because whenever named women talked to each other, they mentioned men.

“A Rose by Any Other Name” did pass the Russo test, and the episode easily passed this diversity test because there were three LGBTI characters in “A Rose by Any Other Name” and none of these characters were solely defined by their sexual orientation and their removals from “A Rose by Any Other Name” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot.

“A Rose by Any Other Name” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this test because there were several non-White individuals in the episode and there were many instances where some of these non-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning White people.

*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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