The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Empire, “Time Shall Unfold” – Season 2, Episode 14

Lucious, as always, was determined to get his way on Empire, “Time Shall Unfold,”  and through dirty and underhanded tricks, he managed to retain Empire.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Time Shall Unfold” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

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Lucious confronts Hakeem and publicly humiliates him.

There were a couple of named women in “Time Shall Unfold,” and while there were instances where some of these women talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. The reason? Men were always mentioned whenever named women talked to each other.

As to the Russo test, there was one LGBTI character in “Time Shall Unfold,” Jamal, and because he was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also defined as being a singer) and his removal from “Time Shall Unfold” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot (e.g., his removal from the episode would have affected the plot as he had his own storyline in “Time Shall Unfold”).

“Time Shall Unfold” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this diversity test because there were a couple of instances where some of the numerous non-White individuals that were in the episode 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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