Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bechdel April - Week 1

The Bechdel Test originated in a 1985 installment of Alison Bechdel’s seminal comic, DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR. It asks that media meet three simple criteria: that there be two female characters who talk to one another about something other than a man. Some critics have narrowed it to cover only named female characters.

Whether or not you demand the characters be named, it’s amazing how seldom books, movies, and TV shows pass the Bechdel Test.

I've always been interested in how the shows I love measure up, so I plan to keep close track of everything I watch over the next month. I imagine this could be of interest to some of you, too, so I’ll post the results every Saturday in April.

I'll try, too, to keep this project from becoming an excuse to watch lots and lots of TV. We'll see how that goes.

Shows Watched This Week

First, a few words about what I watched in the first three days of April. (Hello, short week).

THE 100 is a sci fi drama in which a hundred young criminals return to Earth in the wake of a nuclear war to see if the planet is once again capable of supporting human life.

CORONATION STREET is a contemporary British soap opera set in a fictional Manchester suburb populated by working class people whose lives are packed with drama. It's my favourite show in the entire world. I watch it on the Canadian schedule, which is about two weeks behind the UK schedule.

NASHVILLE is a contemporary drama in which an assortment of musicians at every stage in their careers struggle to stay on top of the charts, or at least to keep afloat in the cutthroat music business. It’s my favourite.

ELEMENTARY is a contemporary police procedural in which Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson work as consultants to the NYPD. They solve a different case each week, while the ongoing evolution of their partnership adds an emotional thread to the proceedings.

The Results

And now, a list of Bechdel-passing moments (or lack thereof) from each individual episode. Some of these moments may qualify as spoilers, depending on what you're shy about knowing.

The 100 S1E9, “Unity Day”

  • Abby and Diana discuss Ark politics, with an emphasis on how badly Abby wants to see her daughter, Clarke, again.
  • Clarke and Anya try to broker a peace agreement between spacers and grounders, with particular emphasis on how each group has harmed the other since they made contact.

Coronation Street, 1st April (Canadian schedule)

  • Michelle and Liz discuss the pub’s tax bill
  • Gail and Bethany talk about fashion. Later, they discuss Bethany’s living arrangements in Milan and how very, very much she can’t stay in Weatherfield.
  • Anna asks Faye about her school day and grills her on her current state of mind.

Nashville S3E16, “I Can’t Keep Away From You”

  • Leila and Adele exchange a few brief words about Leila’s career. It’s a bare pass; my biggest Bechdel surprise of the week.

The 100, S1E10, “I Am Become Death”

  • Raven warns Clarke about the dangers of rocket fuel.
  • Later, the two of them discuss their current lack of communication with the Ark. Raven tells Clarke she’s sorry about Clarke’s mom.

Elementary S3E17, “T-Bone and the Iceman”

  • Mary calls Joan out on being late.
  • Later, Joan tries to test Mary’s mental health with an eye to getting Mary treatment for her possible dementia.

Coronation Street, 2nd April (Canadian schedule)

  • Gail orders Bethany to come to work with her as she’s worried Bethany will get into trouble on her own.
  • Faye, Sally, and Anna engage in some general chatter of the how's-it-going-oh-let-me-snub-you variety.
  • Gail and Bethany talk about books and Bethany’s performance at school. When Audrey joins them, the conversation shifts to Bethany’s eventual goal to work in a salon. They decide she’ll spend the day at Audrey’s instead of helping Gail in the Bistro.
  • Bethany, Audrey, and Maria talk about classic hairstyles. When Bethany sees Audrey’s copy of ANNA KARENINA, she agrees to give Audrey a play-by-play breakdown so Audrey can pretend to have read it.
  • Gail and Audrey discuss Bethany’s future, with Audrey inclined to let Bethany stay in Weatherfield.


  1. Ever since I heard of Bechdel, I've looked out for it in everything I read & watch. It's quite enlightening!

    1. I've watched for it ever since I heard of the test, but this is the first time I've tracked it. There have been quite a few surprises so far.


    Ahem. I just -- I have really been enjoying this show. Ana was correct. It's super good.

    1. At first I was like, "Jenny loves it? Ana also loves it? It Bechdels all over the place? I AM GONNA WATCH THE HELL OUT OF THAT SHOW."

      But then I went to Netflix and it's not available in Canada. Sigh. My library does have two seasons, though, so I'll borrow it sometime soon! They say it's Australian. Is it indeed Australian? Sometimes my library does weird things with their catalogue.