The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: How to Get Away with Murder, “Don’t Tell Annalise” – Season 3, Episode 4

On How to Get Away with Murder, “Don’t Tell Annalise,” Annalise lost her license to practice; Bonnie and Asher worked on a case relating to theft and statutory rape; and Frank killed Bonnie’s dad.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“Don’t Tell Annalise” passed the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

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Laurel overhears about Bonnie’s father’s sudden death and she realizes that Frank was the one who killed him (Bonnie’s dad).

There were several named women in “Don’t Tell Annalise,” and while men were almost always mentioned during the several instances where (some of) these women talked to each other, the episode nonetheless passed the Bechdel test. Why? Because there was a single instance where two named women talked to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Meggy informed a named woman doctor that her patient was pregnant).

“Don’t Tell Annalise” also passed the Russo test, and the episode easily passed this diversity test because there were four prominent LGBTI, Connor, Oliver, Annalise and Eve, in “Don’t Tell Annalise”; because these characters, furthermore, weren’t solely defined by their sexual orientation (e.g., Annalise and Eve were also defined as being lawyers; Connor was defined as being a law student; and Oliver was defined as a computer dude); and because Annalise, Eve, Connor and Oliver’s removals from “Don’t Tell Annalise” would have significantly affected the episode’s plot (their removals, for example, would have affected the plot because a large part of the episode revolved around Annalise and Eve’s assistance in Annalise case and because Connor and Oliver had their own storyline in “Don’t Tell Annalise”).

As to how “Don’t Tell Annalise” fared when it came to the race test, there were several non-White individuals in the episode and because there were a couple of instances where non-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning anyone White, “Don’t Tell Annalise” passed the race test.

*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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