The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Empire, “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” – Season 2, Episode 16

Lucious, Jamal and Hakeem worked on creating a performance for the ASAS on Empire, “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf,” and as they worked on their collaboration, Andre brought grandma dearest back from the grave.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

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Candace drops by to inform Carol that she will no longer be looking after her (Carol’s) kids.

Named women (of which there were a couple in “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf”) talked to each other a couple of times in “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” and because on two of those occasions, men were not mentioned (e.g., Becky informed Porsha of her new job responsibilities and Porsha complained to Cookie), “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” passed the Bechdel test.

“The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” also passed the Russo test, and the episode passed this test because there were three LGBTI characters in “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf,” Jamal, Tiana and D-Major, and none of these characters were solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Jamal, Tiana and D-Major were also defined as being musicians) and all of their removals from “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot as all of their parts tied into the main storyline.

As to the race test, “The Lyon Who Cried Wolf” passed this diversity test, and the episode passed this test because there were several 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.

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