Archive for the ‘the x factor’ Tag

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.