Weekly Roundup: Nov. 2 – Nov. 8

Another week, another roundup of the shows we’ve tracked over the past week and how they did on the Bechdel Test and Mako Mori Test.

We’ll also dig a little into our methodology for testing after the update.

For the week of Monday, Nov. 2 – Sunday, Nov. 8:

Grandfathered: Passes Bechdel, Fails Mako Mori
Note: Up from previous week (Oct. 20) for Bechdel, holds steady for Mako Mori

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori
Note: Up from previous week for Bechdel; holds steady for Mako Mori

Criminal Minds: Fails Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori (b-story)
Note: Holds steady from previous week

Law and Order: SVU: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori

Code Black: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori
Note: Holds steady from previous week for Bechdel, up for Mako Mori

Scandal: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori (b-story)
Note: Holds steady from previous week for Bechdel, down for Mako Mori

How to Get Away with Murder: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori

The Good Wife: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori
Note: Holds steady from previous week

The Affair: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori
Note: Holds steady from previous week

The Leftovers: Passes Bechdel, Passes Mako Mori
Note: Up from previous week for both tests

Now, to the methodology (nerds rejoice; everyone else get a cup of coffee). A Twitter user pointed out that a scene in this week’s Affair would seem to pass the “inverse Bechdel test,” a measure we track mostly as a means of demonstrating that the Bechdel test – and our strict criteria for passing – is not am impossible ask. The vast majority of episodes we watch pass the inverse Bechdel test, and shows across the board pass at a higher rate than they do the standard Bechdel test.

Anyway, the reason the suggested exchange (remember, since we’re flipping Bechdel, it would have to be two men talking about something other than a woman) didn’t pass is because we have carefully defined criteria for passing either test:

  • A spoken exchange constitutes a conversation if there is a back-and-forth dynamic of (generally) more than one line per character. For example, if Character A asks Character B if she would like a cup of coffee, and Character B replies “yes,” this does not count as a conversation, as there has been no exchange.
  • A conversation may be about a man/men even if he is not mentioned directly. For example, if Character A is a lawyer cross-examining Character B, a witness, about a crime and that crime was committed by a man, any information exchanged between the two in the proceedings of the trial is still related to the man. If Characters A and B later see each other in a social setting and discuss what Character B had for lunch, the conversation is not related to the man, even if they both ate lunch at the courthouse. If Characters A and B are both doctors and are discussing a male patient, the information exchanged is related to the man. If the conversation turns to the best treatment method for the patient, that would pass the test, as the conversation is related to medicine.
  • If an exchange takes place between a group of colleagues or friends of mixed genders, and two women contribute to the conversation, that does not constitute a conversation between women. The women must be talking directly to one another.
  • In group settings, a conference-style discussion does not count unless all the characters are the same gender, even if, in a mixed group, there is a string of dialogue in which only members of one gender talk. The rule here tends to be that if one of the characters of the opposite gender added to the conversation, would it be considered interrupting?
  • “Two women” or “two men” can mean an adult and a child, provided the child is old enough to contribute to the dialogue. If the child can speak in complete sentences and/or convey a fully-formed thought or idea, it counts. However, if a conversation is between two women and a male child is present, it still counts as passing the Bechdel test unless the child contributes to the conversation. The rule in this case tends to be that if the child were replaced by a parakeet or a toaster, would the scene have been any different?

The same criteria is applied to either test in order to maintain consistency. The reason we have such strict criteria is because multiple people track and test episodes and we want results to be as consistent as possible. It can be surprisingly ambiguous when determining whether a conversation is actually between two people or if it’s simply an exchange that takes place in the context of a group discussion – likewise with other aspects. So, we try to remove as much ambiguity from the situation as possible with these criteria. It’s also worth pointing out that if we were to open up the criteria more, not that many episodes would have different results.

The reason the scene in The Affair didn’t pass is because the conversation was not exclusively between Martin and his father.

Hopefully, that sheds some light on our process and doesn’t cause any rebellions. We realize it’s strict, but we had to do a lot of fine-tuning in the beginning of the data collection process, and this is the result. We want to have results that are as accurate as possible.

Happy viewing this week and feel free to tweet us with questions. As always, thanks to our contributors.

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