The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Gotham: Mad City, “Burn the Witch” – Season 3, Episode 2

GOTHAM: L-R: Donal Logue and guest star Jada Pinkett Smith in the ÒMad City: Burn The WitchÓ episode of GOTHAM airing airing Monday, Sept. 26 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jeff Neumann/FOX.

Mooney was on the hunt for Dr. Strange on Gotham, “Burn the Witch.” Her plan to gain access to him?  Bullock.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Burn the Witch did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

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Ivy shows up alive and well but a hell of a lot older.

There were a few named women in “Burn the Witch” and there was a single instance where some of these women talked to each other (Valerie and Barbara, for example, talked to each other at Barbara’s bar). The episode, however, did not pass the Bechdel test even though it met two of the Bechdel’s requirements, and “Burn the Witch” did not pass this diversity test because the one time that named women talked to each other, they talked about men (e.g., Valerie talked to Barbara about how she, Barbara, was Gordon’s ex).

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Bruce’s meets a woman who represents The Council in an unexpected way.

“Burn the Witch” also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there was a LGBTI character (i.e., Barbara) in “Burn the Witch” and her removal from the episode would have significantly affected the episode’s plot (e.g., Barbara’s removal would have affected the plot because she ultimately led the GCPD to Mooney), she was primarily defined by her sexual orientation (she was, for example, mostly defined in “Burn the Witch” by her previous relationship with Gordon).

As to the race test, “Burn the Witch” failed to pass this diversity test as well. Why did the episode fail to pass the race test? Well, because while there were a couple of non-White individuals in “Burn the Witch” like Mooney, Valerie, Mr. Fox and Dr. Strange and there were instances where non-white individuals talked to each other (Mooney and Dr. Stranger, for example, talked to each other on two separate occasions), whenever non-White individuals talked to each other, they either directly or indirectly referenced someone White.

*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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