The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Empire, “More Than Kin” – Season 2, Episode 15

Lucious fought to regain his position as CEO of Empire on Empire, “More Than Kin,” but this proved to be difficult to accomplish as he kept alienating his kids, left and right.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“More Than Kin” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

Lucious_&_Cookie_-_EMPIRE_2x15
Cookie publicly announces that the entire Lyon family will perform at an award show.

There were a couple of named women in “More Than Kin,” and while there were instances where some of these named women talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test. The reason? Because men were always referenced whenever named women talked to each other.

As to the Russo test, there were two LGBTI characters in “More Than Kin,” Jamal and Michael, and because one of these characters, Jamal, was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also defined as being a musician) and Jamal’s removal from “More Than Kin” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as he was part of the main plotline, the episode passed the Russo test.*****

“More Than Kin” also passed the race test, and the episode easily passed this diversity test because there were many instances where 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.

*****If Michael had been the only LGBTI character in “More Than Kin,” the episode would not have passed the Russo test, and “More Than Kin” would not have passed this test because while Michael was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was also defined as being a caterer), his removal from the episode would not have significantly affected the plot.

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