The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Strain, “First Born” – Season 3, Episode 3

On The Strain, “First Born,” Eph made a deal with The Master and he offered the Lumen in exchange for his son; it was revealed that Quinlan had killed his adoptive mother due to The Master’s machinations; and Gus struggled to protect his mother from those who would kill her.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“First Born” passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

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Gus offers his mother his blood.

A few non-White individuals like Gus, Gus’s mom and Angel were in “First Born” and there were a few instances where Gus and Angel talked to each other. Out of the couple of times that Gus and Angel talked to each other, there was a single instance where they did not mention anyone White (e.g., when Angel showed up at Gus’s apartment, he asked Gus if he was alright) so “First Born” passed the race test.

As to other diversity tests like the Bechdel, there were only two named women in “First Born,” Kelly and Quinlan’s adoptive mother, and because these women never talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel test.

“First Born” also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because there were no LGBTI characters in “First Born.”

*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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