Bechdel-Wallace test

I’ve been thinking about the Bechdel-Wallace test which comes from this twenty-year old comic strip. A movie or book pases if:

1. It has at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.

I’m very proud that all my books pass the test. But then so do the books of the majority of women writers. And I can think of quite a few YAs by blokes that pass. It’s Hollywood movies that really suck at this test. To such an extent that if you were to apply it you would see very few movies.

It depresses me that twenty years on the test is still an accurate criticism of Hollywood. In fact, there are probably fewer Hollywood movies that pass the test now.

One of the many things I love about The Middleman is that it passes the test. Wendy Watson (Dub Dub) and her best friend, Lacey, talk to each other often about a range of subjects. So do Dub Dub and Ida. I will miss them now that what I hear is the last ep of the season has aired. I haven’t watched it yet though: SPOIL ME AND DIE.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear that rumours of the show’s cancellation have been much exaggerated. Phew!

If you haven’t been watching it do so. You’re missing the best show ever!


  1. cat on #

    Thanks…I was so worried that The Middleman was going to be cancelled. I have not been able to watch too many episodes because everytime it is on I get called out to work. I gave up and decided to wait for the DVD then I heard rumors that is was going to be cancelled. I am happy to hear that will not be happening. The writing, acting, and characterization are great. I love the rapid fire and intelligent dialogue. It is a must see. Glad you are out of the bunker and hopefully can catch up on this amazing show. I root for repeats! or DVD releases!!

  2. Andrew M Butler on #

    What depresses me about Hollywood films is how few of the big blockbusters have a second woman to be talked to. In Dark Knight it looked as if it shouldn’t be a surprise that there was a love triangle as at times it looked like there was only one woman in Gotham City. Not quite true – there was a wife-and-mother for one character, and a female cop, but that’s probably it for named characters. Iron Man did have two but … sheeesh. Don’t get met started. It still feels like the woman is there primarily to give an alibi for the close nature of the male buddy bond.

  3. Rachel Green on #


    Happily, all my novels pass the test. Phew!

  4. Patrick on #

    In a standard Romance novel, how many guys are there?

  5. Karen on #

    No spoilers, just want to say that the season finale is awesome and I am jealous that you still have an episode left that you haven’t seen, because “new” Middleman episodes are a treat. Fingers crossed for another season!

  6. alisa on #

    so, you are the one who addicted me to middleman, thanks for that! 😀 i’m behind on episodes, but i am relieved it’s not being canceled.

    was thinking about the test – been familiar with it for awhile and i realized that my wip passes the test in the first chapter. but, yeah, movies? not so much.

  7. janet on #

    Was this just a case of synchronicity, or were you reminded of the rule by this:

    It’s a great rule. And once when Matt started to explain it to someone, they said “Hmmm…. Let’s see, there’s Alien.”

  8. Julia Rios on #

    I meant to thank you for recommending this show a while ago. We started watching it after I read your previous post praising it, and I completely agree with what you’ve said here. It’s great! Lacey and Dub Dub talk to each other, Dub Dub has all kinds of agency, there are non-white characters who are real people and not stereotypes, and it is also totally hilarious. So thanks for clueing me in.

  9. Serafina Zane on #

    Hmmm…I think books are a lot more likely too than movies, because books just generally tend to have more subplots and characters where movies get simplified a lot (unfortunately).

    I’ve only seen about one episode of The Middleman but I’d really like to catch up, because it seems so awesome.

  10. claire on #

    ha! i was just doing a blog post on this a couple of weeks ago.

    wanna hear the weirdest film that passed the test (with flying colors)? it was “pitch black” the first vin diesel “riddick” movie. weird, huh?

    it’s because riddick wasn’t the protagonist of the first film, it was the radha mitchell character. and there’s also an essentially transgender character in the flick.

    i’ve always LOVED that movie but didn’t realize any of this stuff about it until i applied the bechdel test to it. the awesome power of the bechdel test!

  11. Carbonel on #

    I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear that rumours of the show’s cancellation have been much exaggerated. Phew!

    Way to give your Faithful Reader heart failure–!

    Does the test apply to “two girls” not just “women”? If so, just about all the Walden Media Films pass. Except Holes of course.

    Come to think of it, if you let the wossname test keep you from reading (or watching) Holes, you’ve let ideology rot your brain.

    So never mind…

Comments are closed.