The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham, “Into the Woods” – Season 2, Episode 17

GOTHAM: L-R: Cory Michael Smith and Ben McKenzie in the "Wrath of the Villains: Into The Woods" episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, April, 11 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Several vital events occurred on Gotham, “Into the Woods.” What were they? Well, Barbara woke up and was released from Arkham; Bruce left Selina behind; Penguin murdered his new family; and Gordon discovered that Nygma had been the one who had framed him.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

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Penguin begs his family for a chance to stay at the family home.

“Into the Woods” passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because there was a LGBTI character in “Into the Woods,” Barbara, and she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also defined by her mental health and her criminal past) and her removal from “Into the Woods” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as she played an important part in the subplot.

As to the Bechdel test, there were a couple of named women in “Into the Woods,” but because none of these women ever talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. “Into the Woods” 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 was a time or two where non-White individuals talked to each other, White people were always mentioned whenever two or more non-White individuals 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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