The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” – Season 3, Episode 2

All kinds of things went down on How to Get Away with Murder, “There Are Worse Things Than Murder.” Case in point, Annalise dragged Nate into trying to track down Frank; Connor picked up his first law case; Oliver began his new job as Annalise’s minion; Laurel worked to entrap Frank; and Asher was tired as being treated like an embarrassment by Michaela.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“There Are Worse Things Than Murder” did not pass the Bechdel test but it did pass the Russo and race test.

VIOLA DAVIS
Annalise fights to keep her job as newspapers report on the Annalise murderer posters that have been posted on the campus.

There were a couple of named women in “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” and there were a few instances where some of these women talked to each other. The episode, however, did not pass the Bechdel test despite the fact that it passed two of the test’s requirements. Why didn’t “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” pass the Bechdel test? Because whenever named women talked to each other, they mentioned men.

As to how “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” fared when it came to the Russo test, the episode did pass this particular diversity test, and “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” passed this test because 1) there were three LGBTI characters, Annalise, Connor and Oliver, in the episode 2) because none of the LGBTI characters were solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Annalise was also defined as being a lawyer; Connor was defined as being a law student; and Oliver was defined as being Annalise’s new employee) and 3) because if any of the LGBTI characters had been removed from “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” the episode’s plot would have been significantly affected (e.g., the plot would have been affected if Annalise, Connor and Oliver had been removed because all three played large parts in “There Are Worse Things Than Murder”).

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Oliver introduces himself to Annalise’s class.

“There Are Worse Things Than Murder” also passed the race test, and the episode passed this diversity test because there were several non-White individuals in “There Are Worse Things Than Murder” and there were a couple of instances where some of the non-White individuals in the episode talked to each other without mentioning anyone 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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