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Minority Report Card: Whitney and More.   Leave a comment

“There are two things I know about white people: they love Rachel Ray and they are terrified of curses.”-Ken Hotate

With premiere season over, this column is now going to monitor representation in a sample of seven episodes every week (until midseason premieres – woohoo!). I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). I’ve selected one TV show from every night of the week to look at. I don’t have a particular system devised for selecting episodes to look at, so please comment if you have any requests.

Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

For Sunday I looked at the show I believe is the strongest part of the animation domination line-up. The episode I watched was 3.4 “Mutiny on the Windbreaker.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is among the best shows for great female characters, but as usual this episode was a let down for representation of people of color and queer characters– even though this episode had a very large supporting cast, so there was plenty of opportunity for diversity. There was one character who did seem to be gay, but it was played entirely as a joke.

Gossip Girl (The CW)

On Monday I looked once again at the final season of The CW’s once excellent series. The episode I looked at was 6.5 “Monstrous Ball.” 

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: As usual, the final season of Gossip Girl fails at diversity and everything else.

Go On (NBC)

On Tuesday I watched the freshman sitcom starring Matthew Perry as a man going through grief counseling. The episode I looked at was 1.8 “Video Game Set Match.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is easily one of the best sitcoms around for diversity. Although this episode failed the Will and Jack test, Anne continues to be a strong character.

Whitney (NBC)

On Wednesday I watched the premiere of the second season of comedian Whitney Cummings’s show. This was Episode 2.1 “Bawl and Chain.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: One of the things that annoyed me about the ad campaign and first couple of episodes of this show were the broad generalizations about women. Based on this episode, they seem to have fixed that problem– statements about Whitney being irrational were statements about her personally, not women in general. However, there is no racial diversity on the show and Lily’s many comments about her gay ex-boyfriend were definitely annoying, if not problematic.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

On Thursday I looked at my favorite show on television, Amy Poehler’s excellent sitcom about the people who work for a small town government office. The episode I looked at was Episode 5.7 “Leslie vs. April.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show is so progressive in most ways that the lack of queer representation always surprises and disappoints me. Come on, guys. Throw someone in there!

Last Man Standing (ABC)

On Friday I looked at the second season of Tim Allen’s family sitcom. The episode I watched was Episode 2.3 “High Expectations.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The “we have new neighbors….but they’re black!” plot line is, uh, not exactly fresh. (In fact, this same show did basically the same plot last season with a lesbian couple). Also, because the plot was about the novelty of a black family, I couldn’t stop being reminded that we used to have shows that were actually about black families. Television does not always move forward as time progresses. The lack of queer representation is no surprise. The plus side here is that the subplot about the two daughters showed them as fully realized human beings with an array of pursuits that don’t have to do with men.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

On Saturday I watched this long-running variety show. The episode I looked at was Episode 38.8 “Jeremy Renner / Maroon 5.” 

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This cast is 36% people of color and 36% women. One wonders what all those people were doing throughout this episode.

Minority Report Card: The Wedding Band and More.   Leave a comment

“What up? We’re three cool guys looking for other cool guys who wanna hang out in our party mansion. Nothing sexual. Dudes in good shape encouraged. If you’re fat, you should be able to find humor in the little things. Again, nothing sexual, underlined.”-Mac

With premiere season over, this column is now going to monitor representation in a sample of seven episodes every week (until midseason premieres – woohoo!). I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). I’ve selected one TV show from every night of the week to look at (skipping Tuesday this week since TV took  break for politics). I don’t have a particular system devised for selecting episodes to look at, so please comment if you have any requests.

American Dad! (Fox)

For Sunday night I selected the only TV show that still hasn’t passed a single one of these tests so far this season. The episode I looked at this week was Episode 8.3 “Can I Be Frank With You?”

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: I honestly didn’t expect American Dad! to be the show that went this long without passing one of the tests– after all, CBS exists. The episode that finally made it over the hump did it in the worst way possible, with a throw away joke where the goldfish talks to Roger and we find out that they’ve been having sex. I guess this makes the fish bisexual and so I’m giving it a pass. Mostly to get this show off my back. But damn are they bad at this.

Gossip Girl (The CW)

Monday night’s show was the evening soap opera about the Upper East Side’s elite. The episode I looked at this week was Episode 6.4 “Portrait of a Lady Alexander.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Just like in the premiere, this show failed everything except Bechdel. Back in the early seasons, the show had a prominent queer character (Erik) and a prominent person of color (Vanessa), but it’s been lacking in diversity for a while. I’m hoping that before the season ends we get a return from Erik and possibly some follow-up on the plot they started with Nelly Yuki.

Supernatural (The CW)

On Wednesday I looked at this long-running drama that tracks two demon hunters. The episode I looked at this week was Episode 8.6 “Southern Comfort.”

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: After a promising premiere, this episode went back to the show’s roots of focusing on white, (allegedly) straight men. On the plus side, next week we’re getting a prominent plot involving Kevin Tran and his mother.

The Office (NBC)

On Thursday I looked at the final season of the sitcom The Office. The episode I looked at this week was Episode 9.6 “The Boat.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: It’s nice that they’re giving lone gay character Oscar a love interest and a storyline this season, but their handling of this plot is pretty sloppy. Because its outside the world of the show to give Oscar and Robert significant scenes together, we’re really not given any information about the relationship besides the fact that Robert is married to Angela and they have a baby, so they both mostly come off as terrible people, although it sometimes seems like we’re supposed to be invested in them successfully keeping the relationship a secret. It’s not really an offensive plot line, especially since many of the straight couples have equally sloppy plot lines lately. It’s just a bummer to see their first really significant plot line involving too gay characters handled in such a sloppy way.

Degrassi (TeenNick)

On Friday I looked at this Canadian teen drama. The episode I looked at this week was Episode 12.25 “I Want It That Way.” 

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: There was a point while I was monitoring all the American major network premieres when I started to wonder if I was just asking too much, since show after show kept failing these tests. This episode was a reminder that this really isn’t that hard. The a-plot was a love triangle between an Indian girl (Alli) and two black guys (Dave and Dallas) and while there was romantic tension in her scenes with both of them, they also gave her scenes dealing with her friends, family and academic career so she comes off as a fully realized human being. Both of the subplots involved queer characters– one was about Fiona wanting to win over her girlfriend Imogen’s mother and the other was about Tristan wanting to lose weight. Both of these plots kept the characters’ queer identity in mind while still realizing there are other aspects to them. It was refreshing and also made all of the American shows I looked at more depressing by comparison.

Wedding Band (TBS)

On Saturday I looked at the premiere of the latest TBS sitcom. I can at least assure you that it’s better than Sullivan & Son.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I appreciated the fact that there was a major subplot involving two women working together at a business, especially since something had to balance out all the nagging wife jokes. Poor Harold Perinneau (Lost, Oz) was the one person of color and his dialogue was largely made up of “I’m the black guy” jokes.

 

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll have seven more episodes, including the season two premiere of the groundbreaking feminist sitcom Whitney.

Minority Report Card: Last Man Standing, Malibu Country.   Leave a comment

“You want to pick on immigrants? Then pick on Willie!”-Groundskeeper Willie

“Willie, please, the children want to pick on someone their own size.”-Principal Skinner

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). This week we had the very last trickle of network premieres, with Last Man Standing and Malibu Country.

Last Man Standing (ABC)

Tim Allen’s sitcom returns for a second season.

Bechdel: Pass

Troy and Abed: Fail

Will and Jack: Fail

Notes: What’s interesting about this show is that the main premise and protagonist have scared off a lot of people who would probably actually enjoy it. The title and the fact that Tim Allen is the star suggest the story of a man trying to deal with a woman’s world and his values being questioned– an icky premise for people in search of progressive shows. However, the female characters are far from being the embodiment of ideas for Tim Allen to refute with old-fashioned morals. Instead they are fleshed out, intelligent, independent human beings who it’s easy to sympathize with. To give you an idea of how far this show is from being the outdated man’s man sitcom it appears to be from the ad campaign, the opening scene is the four female characters all discussing politics. As someone who’s been monitoring how often female characters are allowed to talk, on their own, about things other than boys, this scene was music to my ears. While the development, intelligence and prominence of the four female characters is very surprising and refreshing, the show is pretty lacking in representation of queer people and people of color. Hector Elizondo’s Ed isn’t given much to do besides be a sounding board for the Tim Allen character. A lesbian character was featured in an episode last season, but even though she was established as a neighbor and became friends with the protagonist, it seemed clear she was a one-off character. While more progressive than you might expect, this show still lacks the diversity of most other ABC sitcoms.

Malibu Country (ABC)

Reba McEntire’s new sitcom centers on a recently divorced mother who moves from Nashville to Malibu.

Bechdel: Pass

Troy and Abed: Fail

Will and Jack: Fail

Notes: Jai Rodriguez provides the only non-white character, in a role that seems very one-dimensional. His character is most likely gay, since this does not seem like the kind of show that would give a character stereotypically flamboyant mannerisms and then make him anything other than homosexual. There’s another male character I’m somewhat intrigued by who claims to be gay, but is later revealed to regularly kiss girls. This doesn’t seem like the kind of show that would handle bisexuality or pansexuality well, but I might keep tuning in to find out where they’re going with this kid.

Well, premiere season is over! Here is a list of the premieres that passed every test:

 

Glee (Fox)

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Modern Family (ABC)

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

The Amazing Race (ABC)

The Good Wife (CBS)

Congratulations to ABC for being the clear winner here.

With premiere season over, my monitoring schedule will be much less clear cut. I’ll continue tracking American Dad! until it manages to pass one of the tests. Other than that, I’ll be watching whatever grabs my interest or seems popular enough to warrant taking a look at. If there’s a show you’d like me to look at, I’m completely open to suggestions (keeping in mind that I don’t have premium channels).

Minority Report Card: Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and More.   Leave a comment

“Look, dad, I made a modest studio apartment for my Malibu Stacy doll. This is the kitchen, this is where she prints her weekly feminist newsletter– dad, you’re not listening to me!”-Lisa Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”).

There were only two premieres this week, plus I also have my report on the latest episode of Vegas, which I’ve been continuing to watch each week since it hasn’t passed a single test. (Note: I’m still following American Dad!, which also hasn’t passed any of the tests, but it was cancelled this week because of baseball).

Vegas (CBS)

This new series from CBS didn’t pass a single test in its first three episodes. The following is my report on the fourth episode.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Yes, after three weeks of failing miserably, this episode had a conversation between two black women before the first commercial break! I was stunned. During the second commercial break CBS’s website froze and I decided to stop watching since I feel like I would have hurt about it if Vegas had suddenly introduced two queer characters. Let me know if I’m wrong!

Happy Endings (ABC)

This sitcom that follows a group of friends in Chicago returns for its third season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: Max and the physical therapist’s interactions are brief, he’s not much of a character and you don’t find out he’s gay until Max mentions he’s had sex with him and then he’s never seen again.

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 (ABC)

This sitcom about two roommates and James van der Beek returns for its second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The supporting cast includes two people of color: Mark Reynolds (Eric Andre) and Luther (Ray Ford), who is also gay.

Minority Report Card: Suburgatory, Nikita and More.   Leave a comment

“Will that girl ever shut up?”-Homer Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”).

This week we’ve only got three premieres and the two shows that I’m still monitoring due to their thus far terrible representation (“Vegas” and “American Dad!”) didn’t air episodes, so it’s a light week indeed. Here are the results for the three shows that premiered.

Emily Owens, M.D. (The CW)

This new drama on has been described as “Grey’s Anatomy meets Mean Girls.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Even though this episode didn’t pass the third test, the lesbian doctor played by Kelly McCreary was very prominent and distinct. It seems likely that they’ll add love interests for her in the future.

Suburgatory (ABC)

This sitcom about life in the suburbs returned for its second season this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The representation of people of color in this episode was atrocious. The Latina housekeeper sat silently in scene after scene of white people saying racist things. Having white characters say racist things and trying to pass it off as satire doesn’t work when you don’t let the people of color be real characters.

Nikita (The CW)

This spy drama returns for a third season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The lead character is an Asian woman and the show generally does an awesome job with representation of women and people of color. However, they need to get some queer characters in here.

Posted October 22, 2012 by lennyburnham in Minority Report Card, The Simpsons

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Minority Report Card: The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl and More.   Leave a comment

“Homer, listen carefully. John is a homo…”-Marge Simpson

“Right.”-Homer Simpson

“…sexual.”-Marge Simpson

“Ahhh!”-Homer Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”).

Not only am I watching every premiere, but I’m continuing to watch every show until it passes at least one test. So, before I get into the premieres, here are the shows that still hadn’t passed anything as of last week.

Vegas (CBS)

This show failed to pass a single test with its first two episodes. The results below reflect the third episode.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although it still didn’t come close to passing any of the tests, this episode had a handful of prominent, distinctive female characters and people of color.

CSI: NY (CBS)

This failed to pass a single test with its first two episodes. The results below reflect the third episode.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: After failing with the first two episodes, this one had several scenes that were just two women talking.

American Dad! (Fox)

This failed to pass a single test with its first episode. The results below reflect the second episode.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This episode has two bisexual characters besides Roger and still can’t manage to pass. It’s like they’re trying.

And now onto this week’s premieres!

The Cleveland Show (Fox)

The third show created by Seth MacFarlane returned this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is one of the only shows on network TV about a non-white family.

Gossip Girl (The CW)

This drama about rich young people in New York’s Upper East Side returns for its final season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Shockingly, a show that focuses on the beautiful and incredibly rich is not great at diversity.

90210 (The CW)

This reboot of the ’90s teen drama returns for another season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The show does have two queer characters (Trevor Donovan’s Teddy Montgomery and Jessica Lowndes’s Adrianna Tate-Duncan), but Adrianna’s bisexuality hasn’t come up in over a season and it’s unclear whether she now identifies as straight.

Arrow (The CW)

This new show about The Green Arrow premiered this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: There is definitely a major focus on wealthy white heterosexual males on this show.

Nashville (ABC)

This new show pits Connie Britton as a reigning queen of country music against Hayden Panettiere as a young up and comer.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The setting of the country music scene doesn’t lend itself to a lot of diversity, but we’ll see what they do with it.

Chicago Fire (NBC)

This new show about firefighters in Chicago premiered this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show does have one queer character, lesbian Leslie Shay (Lauren German). The scene that established that she’s gay was pretty awkward, but hopefully they’ll handle her better in the future.

The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

This supernatural drama returned for another season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I haven’t seen every episode, but I think all witches are black people and vis versa.

Beauty and the Beast (The CW)

This new show about a beautiful young woman and a hunky alleged beast premiered this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The show features two women of color as partner detectives. Hopefully they’ll add some queer characters soon.

Minority Report Card: Supernatural, Once Upon a Time and More.   Leave a comment

“Pita? Well, I don’t know about food from the Middle East. Isn’t that whole area a little iffy?”-Helen Lovejoy

“Hey, I’m no geographer. You and I, why don’t we call it ‘pocket bread’, huh?”-Fleeta-a-Pita Saleswoman

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”).

Not only am I watching every premiere, but when a premiere fails every test, I’ll continue to watch it until it passes at least one of them. Here are the results for episode two of each of the shows whose premieres failed every test:

Vegas (CBS)

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Yup, I’m stuck watching this show for another week.

Elementary (CBS)

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I’m glad this show passed the first two tests in its second episode because failing at them when you have the most famous Asian woman in America as one of your leads is pretty embarrassing. Hopefully they’ll get some queer representation in there at some point.

Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This episode managed to pass thanks to a scene where Waldon’s ex-girlfriend talks to her daughter.

Person of Interest (CBS)

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Amy Acker makes one badass villain and, while she’s clearly third banana, Taraji P. Henson’s character still has a pretty good part.

Last Resort (ABC)

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Last week I mentioned that it’s surprising that this show’s first episode failed every test since it has some very prominent women and people of color. So, it makes sense that the second episode passed the first two tests easily. They just gotta get more queer characters up in here.

CSI: NY (CBS)

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I hope this show’s representation gets better so that I can stop watching it every week.

Now that those shows are out of the way, let’s move on to this week’s premieres!

The Simpsons (Fox)

The least favorite show of this blog’s founder is back for yet another season!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The abysmal representation on this show is made worse by the fact that most of the prominent people of color are voiced by Hank Azaria.

Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

This animated family sitcom is back for a third season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I wish this show had better representation of people of color and queer people because it has fantastic female characters, does a great job portraying a working class family living within their means and is generally awesome.

Family Guy (Fox)

Seth MacFarlane’s first show returns for another season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Jokes where the punch line is “look how sexist we can be” or “look how racist we can be” are to be expected.

American Dad! (Fox)

Seth Macarlane’s second show returns for another season.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: It’s unfortunate that possibly the most prominent male bisexual character on television is a cartoon alien, but at least they don’t shy away from sexualizing him and giving him romantic plot lines, rather than making his bisexuality solely a throwaway joke. Since the premiere failed all three tests, I’ll be watching it again next week.

666 Park Avenue (ABC)

This show has John Locke playing the devil.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: It’s cool that this show features a prominent woman of color over 40. Hopefully they’ll add some queer characters soon.

Revenge (ABC)

This popular guilty pleasure returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show has a prominent male bisexual who isn’t a cartoon alien, so that’s nice.

The Amazing Race (CBS)

This popular reality show returns for yet another season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: The premiere easily passed every test before the first commercial break.

Once Upon a Time (ABC)

This show about fairy tale characters in a modern setting returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This has been complained about on a lot of other sites, but I’ll just point out that they decided to make Mulan in love with Lancealot instead of a Chinese man.

The Good Wife (CBS)

This legal procedural crossed with a family drama returns.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: I’m not 100% sure that the woman Kalinda talked to is also gay, but it definitely seemed like that was what we were supposed to gather from their conversation.

Supernatural (The CW)

This fantasy show returns for an eighth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This has never been a progressive show, so I was pleasantly surprised when it passed the first two tests. Adding Kevin Tran as a prominent character was definitely a good choice. I feel weird saying it failed the third test since this is subtextually the gayest show on television and the jury is out on most of the male characters, but I have to go ahead and only count overtly queer characters for these purposes.

30 Rock (NBC)

Tina Fey’s series returns for its final season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: There’s a lot of discussion of whether this show is actually good for women, minorities and the queer community. A quick Google search for “30 Rock representation” comes up with articles from Genders.org, Huffington Post, Out Magazine and Fringe Magazine on the first page and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Personally, I think it started off strong and then turned into a show about how rich white people are awesome, but obviously there’s a wide array of different opinions out there.

The Mentalist (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: They just need some queer characters.

Hart of Dixie (The CW)

This show about a pretty young doctor in a small southern town returns for its second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is an excellent show for women and has fairly good representation of African Americans (though I didn’t notice any people from other racial minorities). A queer character would be nice.

Raising Hope (Fox)

This family sitcom returns for a third season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The scene in the premiere that focused on the three female characters was a fantastic example of women being hilarious and frankly discussing sex and relationships. This show also does a good job portraying a working class family. I wish they had more prominent people of color– I suggest making Virginia’s Latina coworkers a bigger part of the show. Last season had a fantastic episode about a trans woman (“The Men of New Natesville”).

Minority Report Card: Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and More.   Leave a comment

“Oh, so that’s it. This is some kind of underwear thing.”-Homer Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). This week was by far the biggest week for premieres of the season– I’ve got 33 of them for you! So let’s begin. Note: Last night’s premieres are not included below. They’ll be in next week’s report because I’m only human and sleep is important.

Guys with Kids (NBC)

This new sitcom’s title says it all. The results below only reflect the pilot and not the episode that NBC called the “premiere.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is possibly the most sexist show I’ve seen since Work It. The problems begin with the title. It’s a show about six heterosexual couples, yet they decided to call it Guys with Kids so you’d know which part you’re supposed to actually care about. Throughout the pilot the guys complain about how Sheila (Childrens Hospital‘s Erinn Hayes), the ex-wife of Chris (Jesse Bradford), is a monster because she makes all the decisions with their son. Then in the climax Chris stands up to her by saying that since he’s the father she just has to trust him. Nothing about making the decisions together or compromising. Just expressing the exact sentiment that they spent the whole episode claiming made Sheila a monster. There’s also a bizarre joke where Sheila says she has a date and Nick (Zach Cregger) reacts with shock and asks, “With a man?!” I can’t even tell if that joke is homophobic because it’s so odd. The only positive thing I can say about this show is that the African American couple is about as prominent is the other two couples. That’s it.

Animal Practice (NBC)

This new sitcom features a monkey in a lab coat. The results below reflect the pilot and not the episode that NBC called the “premiere.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: There are three women and two people of color in the main cast. Too bad all of these characters are one dimensional.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

This sitcom returns for an eighth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I can’t tell you how sick I am of shows about large groups of friends in New York that don’t include any people of color or queer people. That’s quite unlikely.

Partners (CBS)

This is a new sitcom from the creators of Will & Grace about two best friends, one gay and one straight, and their respective partners.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: I was a fan of Will & Grace, but I was always bothered by the lack of diversity. Aside from the fact that almost everyone in the cast was white, bisexuals and gay women were treated mostly as a joke. Based on the pilot, this show seems like more of the same.

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

This series about two waitresses in Brooklyn returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Obviously, Bechdel is where this show really shines. The female leads are distinct and complex and discuss their sexuality with frankness. However, the portrayal of people of color and people from foreign countries on this show is horrifying.

Mike & Molly (CBS)

The sitcom that won an Emmy for having its lead star in Bridesmaids returns. 

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This season premiere had the sort of extremely homophobic plot line that I honestly didn’t think TV shows tried to get away with any more. Watching CBS is like traveling back in time. As distracting and awful as that element of the premiere was, the show in general is one of the only shows to represent plus-size people in a positive way, letting them be the fully developed leads instead of just being a joke.

Dancing with the Stars: All Stars (ABC)

This reality show about celebrities ballroom dancing is returning with an “all stars” season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Based on what I could scrounge up from Wikipedia, the only queer person involved in the competition is dancer Louis Van Amstel.

NCIS (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although there aren’t any queer characters in the main cast of this show, they’ve apparently done some quality gay story lines in the past.

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Honestly, these shows are all blurring together in my memory and Google didn’t turn up any interesting articles, so I have nothing to add to my results.

The Mindy Project (Fox)

Mindy Kaling (The Office) produced and stars in this new sitcom.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is one of the only shows on TV where the clear lead is a woman of color and the first show ever produced by and starring an Indian person. It’d be nice to see some queer representation on it in the future.

Ben and Kate (Fox)

This new sitcom is about a single mother and her brother.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: With only one person of color in the main cast and no queer characters, the representation on this show could stand to improve.

New Girl (Fox)

The hit sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel returns for a second season. They premiered with two episodes, so below are the results of both.

Episode 2.1

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Episode 2.2

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Winston and CeCe, the two people of color in the cast, are both quite funny and well-developed, but aren’t as prominent as the three main white characters. Even in the second episode of season two, which dealt with Winston’s family, the focus was on Schmidt’s relationship with Winston’s family. Season one introduced a lesbian character named Sadie (June Diane Raphael) who was established as one of Jess’s best friends. Here’s hoping we see more of her in season two.

Vegas (CBS)

This new show explores the rivalry between Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid in 1960s Las Vegas.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: “Historical accuracy” is a decent excuse for not having a large number of women and people of color, but there’s no reason the women and people of color that we saw in this episode couldn’t have been more prominent. Since this show failed all three tests, I’m going to continue watching it and reporting back until it passes at least one of them.

Private Practice (ABC)

This Grey’s Anatomy spin-off focuses on doctors in prenatal care and pediatrics.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: As far as I can tell there aren’t any queer characters on this show, which seems odd for a Shonda Rhimes show.

Castle (ABC)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show has a strong female lead, Nathan Fillion’s charming smile and not much else.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

Flashy detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I’m not sure, but I think this might be the only show on TV where Asian characters are given entire scenes alone together.

The Neighbors (ABC)

This new show is about a family that moves into a neighborhood occupied entirely by aliens.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: It’s weird that these aliens don’t understand how humans eat, but have gender roles down perfectly. That could be satirical, but I’m hesitant about giving this show too much credit.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Like many of these cop/detective shows, the best thing I can say about it is that it has a strong female lead.

CSI (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show could really use a queer main character, since the vast majority of the minor characters that show up are criminals or suspects, so it’s hard to show minor characters in a positive light.

The Middle (ABC)

This family sitcom returns for a fourth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is not a progressive show. This is the kind of show where a wealthy family with no major problems regularly wonders if anyone has it worse off than them or is crazier than them.

Modern Family (ABC)

This Emmy darling about an extended family returns.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: The show fulfilled its basic promise by easily passing all my tests.

Scandal (ABC)

The Shonda Rhimes show that’s not about doctors returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is another show where the clear lead is a woman of color. There is also a queer main character, Jeff Perry’s Cyrus Beene. Last year’s season finale gave us a scene between Cyrus and his husband. I’m hoping season two will have more scenes between the two of them.

Elementary (CBS)

This new show capitalizes on the fact that Sherlock Holmes is now in the public domain.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Despite the fact that the second most prominent character on the show is a woman of color, this show failed every test. I’ll keep watching it and posting the results every week until it passes one of them.

Criminal Minds (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Yet another detective procedural that boasts strong female characters but not much else.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

This hit sitcom returns for another season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Sheldon seems distinctly asexual, but they don’t truly acknowledge it and at the end of this episode Raj may have asked a guy out. It’s like they knew I had to decide whether this show has two queer characters interacting and they just wanted to mess with me. However, since Sheldon’s asexuality and Raj maybe asking a guy out were both treated as jokes, I’m going to go ahead and give this a fail until we get more elaboration.

Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Despite the fact that the titular “half man” is now enough of a full man to be in the army, this sitcom is still plugging away.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is another show that seems like it’s trying to mess with me– Alan and Waldon have a rather serious seeming conversation about how they’d like to have sex with each other. However, the laugh track throughout tells me to count this as a fail. I’ll keep watching it and reporting back until it passes at least one of these tests.

Person of Interest (CBS)

The show where Benjamin Linus from Lost solves mysteries with Jesus returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although this show failed Bechdel, the antagonist played wonderfully by Amy Acker is probably the most interesting character. I’ll keep watching until it passes at least one test.

Last Resort (ABC)

This new show follows ex-members of the U.S. military who settle on an island after refusing orders from the government.

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The representation on this show is much better than the test results show. The lead character, Marcus Chaplin (played by Andre Braugher), is an African American man and there are lots of prominent women and people of color with prominent roles. I’ll keep watching until it passes at least one test and I have a good feeling this will get cleared up pronto.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

The long-running medical drama returns for another year.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: It’s not surprising that a Shonda Rhimes show would pass all three tests easily.

CSI: NY (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: I’ll keep watching this and reporting back until it passes at least one test.

Made in Jersey (CBS)

This show follows Martina Garetti (Janet Montgomery), a blue collar woman from New Jersey who gets a job at an upscale Manhattan law firm.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This features a large number of distinct, strong female characters and a sympathetic portrayal of a working class family. But, there are no queer characters and no prominent people of color.

Blue Bloods (CBS)

Detective procedural!

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This once again falls into the “strong women but not much else” category, although in this one the female characters really aren’t that strong.

Fringe (Fox)

This sci-fi show returns for its final season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The cast features only one person of color and no queer characters.

Minority Report Card: Bones, Survivor and More.   2 comments

“I want you to hear what Malibu Stacy is telling a generation of little girls.”-Lisa Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). Let’s begin!

Bones (Fox)

The long-running procedural returns.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Since all of the promotional materials for this show make it seem like it’s all David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel all the time, I was surprised by how prominent and independent the roles of the supporting characters are and the two most prominent of those characters (Angela and Camille) are women of color. Overall, I was impressed by how much this show had female characters and people of color being distinct, prominent and not just there to support Boreanaz. It’s only their queer representation that could improve. Bisexual Angela had a significant role on the show, so that’s good, but according to GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index, her sexuality is rarely acknowledged. Yes, she’s been in a relationship with a man, but House always managed to keep Thirteen’s sexuality a part of her identity even when she was with Foreman.

Revolution (NBC)

This year’s flashiest new drama is the result of the creators of Lost, Supernatural and the Iron Man films joining forces.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The show brings us a bow-and-arrow wielding leading lady and a woman with some major secrets who just might turn out to be the main antagonist. Awesome. I was a little worried that the only people of color would be a scary black man (Tom Neville, played wonderfully by Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito) and a nurturing, motherly black woman (Maria Howell’s Grace). While those are the only two people of color who showed up, by the end of the episode I was pretty convinced that there would be much more to their characters than that. Hopefully the show fulfills its tease by giving us more development of those characters and adds in some queer representation along the way.

The Mob Doctor (Fox)

The title of this new show says it all.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The scene where two people of color interact literally happens in the background while we see the Mob Doctor herself in the foreground. The female lead also leaves something to be desired. Her actions are stupid but it feels like the show doesn’t know she’s stupid.

Survivor: Philippines (CBS)

This reality show based on seeing who can survive harsh conditions returns yet again.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although this episode didn’t have the two queer contestants (lesbian Dana Lambert and gay guy Carter Williams) interacting, they are on the same team, so as long as neither of them is eliminated too quickly, the show should pass that third test by the end of the season.

Up All Night (NBC)

This sitcom starring Will Arnett and Christina Applegate returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although this episode just barely passed the Troy and Abed test, Maya Rudolph’s Ava is the only significant person of color. That’s mostly because the cast is so small. As they add in more supporting characters, I hope we get more people of color and some queer people.

The Office (NBC)

The hit sitcom started its final season this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Mindy Kaling leaving the show really draws attention to how sparse their representation of people of color was. It doesn’t reflect well on them that they’ve been adding a lot of characters over the past couple of seasons and only one of those characters has been a person of color. (Ameenah Kaplan’s Val did not appear in this episode). It seems unlikely that Daryl, Oscar and Stanley will interact much in the upcoming season, but on the other hand they do need to keep the show fresh so some unlikely pairings are bound to come up. The show came tantalizingly close to passing the Will and Jack test with a phone conversation that Oscar had, but since we never see who was on the other line, it’s a fail for now.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

The sitcom some people, including myself, consider to be the best show on TV is back.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Unsurprisingly, this show passed the first two tests easily. In fact the entire C-plot was dedicated to Tom, Ann and Donna interacting. But, the lack of queer representation on this show continues to disappoint me. Sure, they had April’s gay boyfriend and Leslie’s former campaign manager Elizabeth, but I’d really like to see some more significant queer representation this season.

Minority Report Card: Glee, The X Factor and More.   Leave a comment

“Crackers are a family food. Happy families. Maybe single people eat crackers. We don’t know. Frankly, we don’t want to know. It’s a market we can do without.”-Southern Cracker Executive

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). This week is slightly confusing because NBC doesn’t know what words mean; they’ve been calling the second episode of all of their sitcoms the “premiere.” I’ve adopted a policy of looking at both the pilot and the episode that the network is calling the premiere. Let’s begin!

The Voice (NBC)

This hit singing competition returns for a third season this fall.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: It’s pretty easy for reality competitions like this to pass the first two tests. Unsurprisingly, at some point a woman talked to Christina and a person of color talked to Cee-Lo. While the premiere didn’t pass that third test, queer contestant De’Borah is on Christina’s team, which means that if she makes it through the battle rounds she’ll be coached by out bisexual Billie Joe Armstrong.

Go On (NBC)

This new sitcom features Matthew Perry in a grief counseling group. The test results below reflect the first two episodes of the series.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: While the leads of this show are pretty much what you’d expect– white, heterosexual, attractive and successful– the ensemble is very diverse and interesting. In particular, there’s George (Bill Cobbs), an elderly black man with multiple disabilities; Anne (Julie White), a gay woman in her 40s who is now a single parent after the death of her partner; and Yolanda (Suzy Nakamura), an Asian woman who might be asexual or celibate. Once the minor characters start interacting more with each other and it becomes less focused on Matthew Perry, this could be one of the more progressive shows on TV.

The New Normal (NBC)

This new sitcom from Ryan Murphy focuses on a gay couple and the woman who is having their baby. The test results below reflect the first two episodes of the series.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: I can’t stress enough how much this show fails to represent people of color. Occasionally Nene Leaks shows up to yell at people, talk about how rich her boss is and say things like “this is why my people spank!” The two other people of color we’ve seen are a highly sexualized Asian woman who is just there to have sex with a white man and then have bigoted insults hurled at her and a silent Latino mover who is just there to have bigoted insults hurled at him.

Parenthood (NBC)

This drama about an extended family returns for its fourth season this fall.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: It was nice to see a plot line about agnosticism, although the show wasn’t as frank as it could have been. The show also features a child with autism. It seems weird to me that there isn’t any queer representation on this show since it seems like it’s trying to be realistic and statistically you’d think someone in the extended family would be gay.

The X Factor (Fox)

Simon Cowell’s new singing competition returns for a second season this fall.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Unlike American Idol, queer contestants are allowed to be out on the show. However, despite the fact that they often show the contestants with family, friends and partners, we didn’t get to see two out queer people interact with each other in a significant way.

Glee (Fox)

This musical comedy show, which primarily exists to sell iTunes singles, is returning for its fourth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: This show passed all of my tests easily. The most exciting part of this season is the surprisingly not terrible portrayal of Unique, the first trans character to be in the main cast of a major network show. As much as I was prepared to hate Glee, during the scenes where Blaine, Brittany and Unique were interacting, it was pretty incredible to realize that this was a major network show where three queer people are interacting and they’re all queer in different ways (gay, bisexual and trans, respectively) and since the plot was all about competing over solos, it was a plot line that wasn’t just about being queer. Throw in the racial diversity and I have to admit that I was impressed, even with all of my hatred for Glee that’s built up over the past three years. That being said, one inoffensive episode doesn’t necessarily mean the show is changing its ways. In the past Glee has been a highly offensive show. (Don’t take my word for it. You can read articles on some of the problems with Glee at Feminist Fatale and Think Progressive). It’s important to approach it with an extremely critical eye because of the problems it has dealing with women, sexuality, gender identity and race. Also, I want to point out that while it is very diverse, it’s not the only show out there to boast that kind of diversity. I highly recommend The L.A. Complex and Degrassi, two shows that are also extremely diverse but are far less problematic than Glee.

Shark Tank (ABC)

A reality show about business returns for a fourth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Unknown

Notes: I couldn’t find anything on the personal lives of the “Sharks” and none of the contestants identified as queer. Since this show doesn’t delve into contestants’ personal lives as much as talent competitions do, it doesn’t feel as weird to not have anyone mention being queer.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

This sketch show returns for a millionth season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Pass

Notes: Things aren’t looking great. The episode passed all three tests, but each time it was only because of one very quick interaction. They would have a much better chance at passing with a female host or a host who is a person of color, but so far they’ve got three white guys lined up.