the Bechdel Test and sci-fi shows

Voyager's Janeway and TorresSo I’m still looking for a sci-fi or fantasy film I’ve seen that passes the Bechdel Test. While I’m searching, let’s move on to something that seems easier at first glance: TV shows.

It’s almost trivial for a long-running show to pass the test; just have two women talk to each other about something other than a man in any episode. Some shows do better than others, though, passing the test in more individual episodes.

I started to write a list of sci-fi and fantasy shows I’ve liked, with a “Bechdel rating” or “Bechdel factor” for each, but I soon realized how time-consuming and tedious that would get. (It gives me an excuse to rewatch some old favorites, but if I waited for that you’d be getting this posthumously.) I don’t remember individual episodes of most shows anyway, so the numbers would be pretty arbitrary.

Still, it’s fun to guess. Quantum Leap would score surprisingly low; Al spent more screen time talking about his ex-wives and conquests than any two women spent talking about anything. I’m not sure if they’d get credit for episodes where Sam leaped into a woman, but even counting those I can’t remember many scenes that would pass.

Battlestar Galactica and Firefly would do pretty well, but for some reason I’m not remembering many specific conversations between women. The awesome banter between Inara and Saffron probably passes, and Kaylee and Inara share moments here and there. (Oddly enough, I can’t remember Zoe talking to anyone but Mal or Wash.) Roslin and Starbuck have enough dialogue in BSG that most episodes probably pass.

One show stands out as an obvious winner: Star Trek: Voyager. (I know, I know. I liked it, though.) The Captain and Chief Engineer are both women, and it’s tough to find an episode where those two don’t talk tech. Introducing Seven later in the series probably upped the percentage toward 100%, but it would have been close anyway.

Notice I haven’t said a thing about Buffy. That’s because I have yet to watch an entire episode. Sorry, Deb!

One thought on “the Bechdel Test and sci-fi shows

  1. Oh Chris, when will you learn the wonders of “Buffy?” If you only knew what you were missing . . . *sigh*

    (And, um, yeah, it would totally pass the test, too. Especially when Faith and Buffy were working together and/or kicking each other’s butts. And don’t forget that Willow and Tara were in a lesbian relationship.)

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