The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Empire, “Sin That Amends” – Season 3, Episode 2

Jamal was experiencing some serious PTSD symptoms that hindered his ability to perform on Empire, “Sin That Amends,” and in an effort to ignore his new problem, he got involved in an organization that worked to empower and provide resources for young Black teens.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Sin That Amends” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

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Lucious and Cookie meet with Angelo, a politician working for a cause.

There were a couple of named women in “Sin That Amends” and there were a couple of instances where some of these women talked to each other. Nonetheless, “Sin That Amends” did not pass the Bechdel test, and the episode did not pass this test because whenever named women talked to each other, they mentioned men.

As to other diversity tests like the Russo test, “Sin That Amends” passed this test, and the episode passed this diversity test because 1) there was a LGBTI character, Jamal, in “Sin That Amends” 2) he was not solely defined by his sexual orientation (e.g., he was mostly defined as being a survivor of gun violence) and 3) his removal from “Sin That Amends” would have significantly affected the plot as a big chunk of the episode’s plot revolved around him.

“Sin That Amends” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this test because there were several non-White individuals in “Sin That Amends” and there were many instances.

*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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