The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The K2 – Season 1, Episode 1

On the first episode of The K2, several mysterious individuals collided with one another. The first mysterious individual that was introduced? An-Na, the daughter of a politician.

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An-Na.

An-Na, for unknown reasons, was in Spain and was on the run from several mysterious men. While on the run, An-Na encountered Je-Ha, a man who was also attempting to flee for reasons unknown. An-Na asked for Je-Ha’s help, and while he did initially help her to escape some men, he eventually abandoned her when she got captured by someone and placed in a car.

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Je-Ha fights off a man while An-Na escapes.

After Je-Ha abandoned An-Na, the show cut to several months in the future. Je-Ha was now working as a banner hanger, and while out on a job, he just so happened to witness Se-Joon, An-Na’s politician father, with a mistress and he also saw masked men break into Se-Joon’s office.

Je-Ha, evidently, was really not meant to witness the events that he did, as immediately afterwards, Se-Joon and his wife Yoo-Jin sent men after Je-Ha. This did not pose much of a problem for Je-Ha, however, as he was a trained fighter, and once he disposed of Se-Joon and Yoo-Jin’s men, he ran off into the night and disappeared.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 1 passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

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Se-Joon enjoys wine with his mistress and watches his wife’s interview simultaneously. 

The cast of the episode 1 was mostly non-White and none of the characters ever mentioned White individuals. There were thus many instances where non-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning anyone White so the episode passed the race test (and easily at that).

As to whether or not episode 1 passed other diversity tests like the Bechdel, there were three named women, An-Na, Yoo-Jin and a named woman anchor, in the episode, and while there was a single occasion where some of these women (Yoo-Jin and the anchor) talked to each other, the episode did not pass the Bechdel. Why? Because the one time that named women talked to each other, they mentioned men (e.g., the anchor interviewed Yoo-Jin about her husband).

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Je-Ha breaks into Se-Joon’s office to aid an elderly woman who has been assaulted.

Episode 1 also failed to pass this Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were two LGBTI characters in episode 1 (e.g., two gay men approached Je-Ha in Spain), these men were solely defined by their sexual orientation and their removals from the episode would not have significantly affected the plot (e.g., their removals from episode 1 would not have affected the plot because they were extras who only appeared for a few seconds and they added nothing to the actual plotline).

*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.