The Bechdel test appeared for the first time in the comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For”, by Alison Bechdel (1985). The comic was a humorous depiction of a real issue in the film industry, the lack of women characters who interact with other women. The Bechdel Test was created to judge how movies portrayed female relationships. Two women interacting with each other doesn’t seem like it’d be hard to find in a movie, but there’s a catch. The criteria for The Bechdel Test includes 1) The movie must have at least two named women in it, 2) they have to talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man. Women are constantly stereotyped in Hollywood and are used mostly as a romantic counterpart of a man. Here are 10 movies from the last 10 years that pass The Bechdel Test.
Ocean’s Eight (2018)
“Ocean’s Eight”, released in June of this year, features a majority woman cast. The eight power house women include names as big as Cate Blanchett and Rihanna. The story focuses on these eight women as they attempt to carry out a nearly impossible heist at Met Gala. This movie goes above and beyond with crossing off everything on The Bechdel Test, with an all-star female cast as they crush stereotypes and interact with each other about something besides men.
Lady Bird (2017)
The 2017 Oscar nominated best picture of the year focuses heavily on the mother daughter relationship between Lady Bird McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf). Although Lady Bird experiences relationships and love throughout the film, a majority of the conversations between female characters centers around Lady Bird’s struggles with high school and her road to college.
Hidden Figures (2016)
An all-star woman cast featuring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe tells the incredible true story of the three African-American women who broke stereotypes and gender roles when they largely contributed to NASA. There are several more named female characters in the movie and they never talk to each other about men. These powerful women are too busy discussing mathematics, computer programming and women in the workforce to worry about men! There’s not much else to say besides watch this movie and admire these strong bad ass women!
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Charlize Theron stars in this post-apocalyptic world movie, as her character Imperator Furiosa teams up with several other women in an attempt to overthrow Immortan Joe, the tyrannical leader of Cult of the V8. Imperator Furiosa and her women prisoner helpers are way too busy kicking ass to talk about how cute Max Rockatanksy is.
When Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Bryne) decided to raise their newborn in a quiet neighborhood, the last thing they expected was to live next to a frat house. A hilarious and ridiculous fight ensues between Teddy Sanders, (Zac Efron) the head frat boy and the Radner’s. This movie pasts the Bechdel Test as a result of several conversations between Kelly, Paula (Kelly’s friend), Brooke (Teddy’s girlfriend), and Carol, the dean of the frats university about almost anything but their relationships with men.
Yes, I know everyone is tired hearing about Frozen, but you can at least appreciate this strong sister duo! Although Elsa and Anna have their differences about Anna marrying Prince Hans, their real struggles stem from their love for each other and what they would do to save the other. The only real act of true love occurs when Anna saves Elsa’s life. Although Anna and her companion Kristoff seem to live happily ever after, we all focused on the sisters’ relationship instead!
The Hunger Games (2012)
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) passes the Bechdel Test immediately. The story of Katniss and the teens from the twelve Districts of Panem begins with Katniss taking her sister Primrose’s place in fighting to her death in the annual Hunger Games. From this point on, Katniss builds her relationships with both male and female characters, all while trying to stay alive. Women speak to each other throughout, tending to focus on the topic of survival.
While this raunchy comedy may not seem to be a feminist film on the surface, the popular comedic stars tell the real experiences involved in female friendships. Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Helen (Rose Bryne) fight over their mutual best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) when she announces her engagement. Although there are several ‘cat fights’ between the bridesmaids and maid of honor, by the end of the movie you discover just how strong female friendships can be, despite all the craziness that sometimes comes with it. Yes, it is about a woman getting married, but I promise it’s much more than that.
Black Swan (2010)
This drama thriller tells the captivating story of Nina Sayers, a hard-working ballerina. When she gets cast in her dream role as the Swan Queen for her company, she quickly begins to lose her sanity, both because of her relationship with her overbearing and harsh mother, and because of her relationship with Lily, her dance rival. Though there are several conversations about Thomas Leroy, their creepy and manipulative director, there is a huge focus on Nina’s relationship with other women in her life and her relationship she struggles to maintain with herself. The cast is primarily female and although the women have light flirtations with men, they have bigger things to worry about…particularly Nina’s growing insanity.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Although this Disney musical seems to just be about an ordinary girl (turned frog) on a mission to help a frog (prince) back into a human, it’s much more than that. The ‘ordinary girl’ is a waitress named Tiana, who is working day and night to make enough money to accomplish her dream of opening her own restaurant. The relationship between Tiana and her father, and Tiana and her mother is a huge focus of the storyline. Even while falling in love with Prince Naveen, a large portion of Tiana and Naveen’s conversations revolve around reversing the spell that turned them into frogs or Tiana’s dreams. Personally, The Princess and the Frog is one of my favorite Disney movies, because the story isn’t just a typical princess love story, but also a story about an empowered woman accomplishing her dreams.
The Bechdel Test has its faults, a movie isn’t necessarily a ‘feminist’ movie if it passes 3/3 on the Bechdel Test. However, it can certainly be refreshing to sit down and watch a movie that’s not 90 minutes of women talking about men. Giving women story lines that focus on more than their relationship with men is a minuscule step in making Hollywood more inclusive, but nonetheless, watching women be the bad-asses they are on the big screen sure is entertaining.