Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bechdel April - Week 2

The Bechdel Test asks that media contain at least two female characters who talk to one another about something other than a man. I'm tracking my television consumption throughout April to see how often the shows I love meet this seemingly simple criteria, and I'm doing it publicly because I figure it's of potential interest to y'all as well as to me.

Last Week's Shows

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. I watch it on the Canadian schedule, which is about two weeks behind the UK schedule.

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

THE ORIGINALS is a fantasy drama in which a family of vampires contends with an assortment of supernatural beings both friendly and non on the streets of New Orleans.

MODERN FAMILY is a contemporary sitcom about a large extended family. I don't watch it regularly; it was just kind of on while I was hanging out with my own family.

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.

DAREDEVIL is a superhero drama about a New York lawyer who uses his superpowers to take down criminals in Hell's Kitchen.

The Results

And now, a breakdown by episode, in the order I watched them rather than by series. This'll be much longer than last Saturday's installment since a) this covers a full week rather than three days b) I made an effort to catch up on some DVR viewing, and c) some of these shows do really, really well with the Bechdel Test.

Then again, some of 'em fail. Miserably.

As before, these notes may qualify as spoilers. If you're leery of that sort of thing, be assured I've listed everything in bullet points, with each bullet point representing one scene. A quick scan should give you an idea of how many scenes in each show contain Bechdel-qualifying moments.

Coronation Street, April 3rd (Canadian schedule)

  • Gail and Bethany argue, first about food and then about Bethany's prospective flight home to Milan.

The 100, S1E11; "The Calm"

  • Anya orders Clarke to heal Triss. The two of them discuss Triss's condition, the circumstances that led to it, and Clarke's chances of success in her medical endeavors. They argue about warfare and necessity as Clarke works.

The 100, S1E12; "We Are Grounders, Part One"

  • FAIL

The 100, S1E13; "We Are Grounders, Part Two"

  • Raven fills Clarke in on the rocket fuel situation and tries to lead the way as they investigate further. Clarke orders Raven to stay still so Raven doesn't exacerbate her injury.
  • Raven and Clarke strategize ways to keep the grounders from overrunning the camp.
  • Clarke questions Raven about her physical condition and delivers her diagnosis. Raven fills Clarke in on the ignition system they need to fix.
  • Raven coaches Clarke through the necessary repairs.
  • Raven tells Clarke how she, Raven, has always come first and how badly she wants that to still be true. Clarke reassures her.
  • Clarke tries to talk Anya down from a suicidal attack on the spacers.

Coronation Street, April 6th (Canadian schedule)

  • Gail calls Sarah about Bethany's refusal to leave Weatherfield. They argue about the situation.
  • Liz and Andrea discuss Michelle's excessive candle use. Liz asks Andrea to help serve in the Rovers. Andrea is happy to do so.
  • Liz tells Michelle she can help serve if she's done setting up in the back. Michelle agrees rather reluctantly.
  • Emily orders her drink from Liz and donates to the Butler Auction Fund instead of offering up a tip, much to Liz's chagrin.
  • Emily apologizes to her friends for the Butler Auction's rowdy atmosphere. Her friends don't seem the slightest put out by it all.
  • Various female cast members, including Mary, Gail, and Jenny, banter about how Sally has offered her butler services in Sophie's stead.

The Originals, S2E15; "They All Asked For You"

  • Gia calls Josephine out on her snobbery. The two of them talk music. Josephine praises Gia's candor.
  • Eva threatens a girl in the market.

The Originals, S2E16; "Save My Soul"

  • Dahlia tempts Freya with the vast reserves of power that await her. She also tells Freya they're a family now because Freya's other family didn't want her--and nothing is more important than family.
  • Rebekah tries to clear things up with Josephine when a mob of witches confronts her about Eva's crimes.
  • Rebekah approaches Davina for help containing Eva.
  • Dahlia and Freya perform magic together.
  • Dahlia tries to bind Freya to her. Freya fights back.
  • Rebekah tells Freya about the Eva situation. Freya assures her she can help.
  • Dahlia tells Freya they are now immortal.

The Originals, S2E17; "Exquisite Corpse"

  • Eva threatens Rebekah, who tries to evade her.
  • Hayley orders Eva away from Hope. A fight ensues.
  • Josephine fills Hayley in on Eva's activities and tells her what Eva had planned for Hope.
  • Hayley calls Josephine out for her unwillingness to help the family oust Eva without harming Rebekah. Josephine warns Haley a storm is coming.
  • Esther reaches out to Freya, who rebuffs her.
  • Eva threatens Josephine.
  • Esther explains herself to Freya, who's having none of it. Their conversation turns to the spell Esther can teach Eva to help Rebekah triumph over Eva.
  • Gia and Hayley discuss strategies for protecting Hope from anyone who might try to break into the compound.
  • Josephine welcomes Freya to the coven and assures her New Orleans is now her home.
  • Freya confronts Esther about the role Esther played in her loss of innocence. She reiterates her hatred of Dahlia.

Coronation Street, April 7th (Canadian schedule)

  • Tracy questions Amy about her upcoming recorder concert. Amy wonders why it's such a big deal where she stands in relation to the other performers.
  • Gail orders Bethany to spend the day working at the Bistro. Bethany protests, but heads off anyways.
  • Liz asks Michelle if she's wedding-planning. Michelle retorts that no, she's checking her banking information (but Liz quickly discovers she was totally wedding-planning).
  • Gail invites Audrey for supper. When Bethany gets home from the Bistro, Gail ribs her about her appearance and asks about her workday. Bethany describes her waitressing efforts.
  • Michelle asks Liz to save her some seats at Amy's concert. Both women share their dread of the event, not just for the music but also for the other parents in attendance.
  • Tracy and Liz argue as to who will sit where in the car on the way to the concert.
  • Liz and another parent argue over whether it's all right to save seats. The parent clashes with Tracy over the same issue, but backs off quickly. When Liz asks her why she didn't give Tracy such a hard time, the parent retorts that Tracy has a reputation.
  • Gail scolds Bethany about her work ethic. Sarah arrives and reams Bethany out for running away, and for making Sarah come all the way from Milan to deal with the situation

Modern Family, S6E19; "Grill, Interrupted"

  • Gloria and Claire congratulate Alex on getting into her first choice college. Alex protests it isn't a big deal. Meanwhile, Lily and Hayley snark at one another.

The 100, S2E1; "The 48"

  • Clarke demands answers from Maya, who can't tell her very much but still agrees to take her to an occupied level of the Mount Weather compound.
  • Maya berates Clarke for her actions but agrees not to press charges.
  • The liason tasked with integrating the spacers into Mount Weather greets Clarke and welcomes her to the community.
  • Clarke apologies to Maya, who is reluctant to accept.
  • Abby wakes Raven up. Raven fills Abby in on what happened to her before and during the grounder attack. She also tells Abby Clarke is no longer with the ground ship.

Coronation Street, April 8th (Canadian schedule)

  • Bethany and Sarah argue about Sarah's expulsion from her international school. Bethany insists Sarah's work ethic was a contributing factor. She feels like Sarah doesn't pay any attention to her since Sarah started her new job. Audrey tries to mediate and ends up telling everyone to shut up.
  • Liz invites Tracy to come for a drink in the Rovers to celebrate Amy's recital. Tracy agrees.
  • Sarah chases after Bethany and threatens to call the cops if Bethany won't stop and listen to her. Bethany finally agrees to do so. They settle in to talk about the reasons behind Bethany's recent behavior.
  • Sarah opens up about how Bethany's actions have made her feel. Bethany once again says she feels neglected because of Sarah's new work schedule. They listen to one another. Sarah won't definitively say Bethany can stay in Weatherfield, but she agrees to consider Bethany's feelings going forward and to ask more questions if Bethany doesn't automatically open up. They segue into a discussion of fashion and the sort of food one can't get in Milan.
  • Audrey tells Sarah and Bethany she'd love to have them stay with her, she really would, but she can't offer them a spare room right now because her boiler's broken.

Nashville, S2E7; "This Just Ain't A Good Day For Leavin'"

  • Sadie calls Rayna for help. Rayna assures her she'll come right down to the police station with a lawyer in tow. (NB: Sadie's storyline revolves around how she shot her abusive ex-husband, but since the characters are concerned with Sadie's emotional state rather than the man who caused it, I've elected to give the interactions a passing grade.)
  • Juliette and Emily discuss the details of Juliette's upcoming baby shower. Emily thinks everything looks great; Juliette thinks Rayna went way overboard with the decorations. She's also concerned about the guest list, which is primarily composed of her female employees.
  • Sadie tells Rayna how she came to possess the gun and how unsafe she's felt these last few weeks. They also discuss Sadie's case and how scared Sadie is that the cops will decide to charge her.
  • Juliette freaks out about the shower. Emily tries to talk her down but fails.
  • Juliette tells Rayna she cancelled the shower and reams Rayna out for putting everything else ahead of the day. Rayna defends herself as best she can while acknowledging that Juliette isn't thinking clearly, but she eventually breaks down over her inability to explain everything that's been going on. Juliette apologizes and announces her water has broken.
  • Rayna offers Juliette her support as Juliette goes into labour.
  • Sadie shares the DA's decision with Rayna. She tells Rayna she has to get out of town for a while so she can sort through everything that's happened to her and cope with what she did. Rayna gives Sadie her support.

Coronation Street, April 9th (Canadian schedule)

  • Anna questions Faye about how she's feeling. Faye brushes her off. Anna dangles the promise of a visit to Katy in front of Faye in the hope Faye will show some enthusiasm. Faye tries to do so for Anna's sake.
  • Tracy welcomes Carla back to Weatherfield. They chat about Carla's trip to L.A. and her upcoming work schedule. Carla gives Tracy a present and asks how the shop is doing. Tracy mouths her usual excuses.
  • Sarah reams Bethany out for her behavior to the rest of the family. Bethany blows off her concerns and asks if they can go shopping today, just the two of them.
  • Sarah and Bethany talk about how Weatherfield's shopping district compares to what they're used to in Milan. Bethany says again that she hates her international school. Sarah agrees to find Bethany a better school and to work fewer hours so they can have more time together. Bethany is not terribly impressed with any of this and makes sure Sarah knows it.
  • Bethany and Sarah discuss clothes, Sarah's work, and various other issues that plague their relationship.
  • The shop assistant chases Bethany partway down the street, calling for her to come back. Bethany refuses.

Daredevil, S1E1; "Into the Ring"

  • FAIL

Coronation Street, April 10th (Canadian schedule)

  • Sarah gets Bethany into the car, where Bethany proceeds to crow about her victory over the shop employee. Sarah reprimands her for bragging about it.
  • Sally pesters Carla about L.A. and asks if she should stay for Carla's business meeting. Carla blows her off.
  • Sarah reams Bethany out for shoplifting. They fight about Sarah's plans for Bethany going forward, and Bethany dares Sarah to slap her so she can call child protective services.
  • Sally complains about the grocery store tellers to Anna, who eggs her on partly for entertainment value and partly as a delaying tactic. Anna asks Sally to explain her comprehensive recycling program for the same reason.
  • Sophie finds Faye and asks what's wrong. Faye demands Sophie help her.
  • Sally and Anna discuss parenting techniques and Rosie's current profession. Katy and her mother come up, too.
  • Sophie coaches Faye as Anna arrives and demands to know what's going on. Faye finally confesses her pregnancy.

Daredevil, S1E2; "Cut Man"

  • FAIL (There is a brief moment where Karen apologizes to Fran for being loud, but since Fran doesn't say a word herself I don't figure that's enough to merit a pass)


  1. I am surprised by Daredevil! That makes me want to watch it just a little bit less. :(

    1. It improves a little over the next few episodes (I've watched up to E6 now), but it's still a decidedly male-focused show. The major female characters haven't interacted yet, though they've brushed up against some women with bit parts. I'm hoping to see some more progress as the show establishes itself more, though what I've heard from the folks who've already completed their binge-watches makes me think it's unlikely to change much before this season ends.

  2. I watched the first four? episodes of Daredevil on Friday, and yeah, the Bechdel Test situation was not great. I want Rosario Dawson to make friends with Charlie Cox's secretary so they can talk about things. Also because I find the secretary's whistle-blowing journalism plotline exceptionally boring so far.

    1. YES. The women need to interact instead of just doing everything through and around the dudes.

      I'm actually enjoying the whistle-blower thing since it's something Karen's tackling on her own. It would be so easy for her to just turn to Matt and Foggy for help, but instead she decides to take action, researches Urich to determine he's in a prime position to get the word out, and comes up with some productive ways she can dig for more information. And she does it even though she's obviously scared as all hell. It makes me like her a lot.

      I just wish she'd turn to some more women in the course of her investigation. I'm happy to see Urich on screen, (I liked him quite a bit in FRONT LINE, my favourite part of Civil War.I have no idea how he fits in anywhere else in the Marvel Universe, though I assume he's at least tangentially related to DAREDEVIL), but surely there's space for a female reporter as well, or more female sources, or something.