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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: 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”).