Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and Ms. E took the opportunity to check in with Hollywood to see how this year’s films fared when put to the Bechdel Test, a meter by which to measure the significance of female characters in movies. The Bechdel Test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s 1985 comic strip, The Rule. You’d think that passing the test would be easy. The movie simply must:
(1) Contain at least two women
(2) who speak to each other
(3) about something other than a man.
But…apparently that’s a lot to ask! E presented us with a list of fine films that passed the test in 2012, but how did women in television do last year?
We may not be able to say that women were having a fantastic year, but girls certainly were. That includes girls who are clearly in her thirties, like Jess, from New Girl.
This show was not great at first, Bechdel test-wise. Even while featuring a female as the central character, this show’s premise leans very heavily on the Smurfette Principle, as Jess is the lone gal in a group of guys. In the pilot, she moves in with three male roommates because she is tired of living with her best friend, Cece, who is a model. Because, I guess, they can’t keep good snacks in the house? It’s a little flimsy. So what about the test? The show really improved its score in 2012, due to its shift away from the original gag (check out this one ‘weird’ girl and the dudes that put up with her!), making it more of an ensemble piece, with a much higher frequency of Cece appearances. (Cece is also a woman of color…bonus!)
Sometimes Jess and Cece are talking about men, usually one of the dudes in the loft, but they also have other meaningful interactions that move the plot forward and explore their relationship. Notably, in the episode “Models”, in which Jess slights Cece by implying that she doesn’t have a “real” job, and later discovers that, in fact, modelin’ ain’t easy.
2 Broke Girls
This show has passed the test since the pilot. The two main characters, Max and Caroline, frequently discuss money, not having money, how to make money, and whether or not to open a cupcake shop. Pass!
The girls from Girls just wanna have fun! And talk about:
1. Paying/Not paying the rent
2. Who is a good friend and who is a bad friend
2. Accidentally smoking crack
4. Nebulous dreams
MOVING ON TO THE WOMEN! How’d they do?
(RIP) Don’t Trust the B—- in APT 23
June is your classic wholesome, mid-western type who moves to New York City for a job on Wall Street, only to the find the office is being raided by the feds on her first day. Her dreams dashed, she ends up having to move in with a random from the internet, Chloe, a socialite and con-artist who’s best friends with James Van Der Beek. Chloe pays for her apartment by running several cons, one of which is advertising for random roommates, taking their first and last month’s rent, and then proceeding to be a huge bitch until they are forced to move back to Indiana. June figures out Chloe’s game and refuses to move out, hilarity ensues.
Or at least it does until the show gets cancelled.
I AM SO MAD THAT THIS SHOW WAS CANCELLED.
Not only did the the cast list include James Van Der Beek, of Dawson’s Creek, AS HIMSELF, it was hilarious, delightfully bizarre, and passed the Bechdel test with flying colors, every episode, constantly.
Things Chloe & June talked about besides a man:
1. Running cons
2. How to make hot, hot jam
3. Being the inspiration for a Japanese graphic novel entitled “Tall Slut No Panties”
4. How to best raise the foster child your roommate has taken in without your consent
(RIP) Best Friends Forever
Here lies another great comedy that aced its Bechdel test. Lennon & Jessica, formerly roommates, have been maintaining a bi-coastal best friendship since Jessica was married several years ago. When Jessica’s husband serves her divorce papers out of the blue, she returns to New York to move back in with Lennon– who now shares the apartment with her boyfriend, Joe. Hilarity ensues! Until it is cancelled.
Lennon & Jess talk about:
1. Steel Magnolias
2. Preparing lamb shanks for the perfect Lazy Sunday
3. Cougar Parties
4. Wearing sad khakis
5. Protecting your areolas
So, yeah, there were some truly funny shows created by and starring women/girls/chicks last year. But movies and television shows that pass The Test are still not as common as they should be. Here’s hoping that this year we’ll see even more, and that they stay on the air as long as they deserve to.
‘Cause us ladies, we say lots of stuff. Right, June?