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Similar to The Bechdel Test
, a narrative is Deggans compliant when it has:
- At least two non-white human characters in the main cast...
- ...in a show that's not about race.
If the socially dominant race in the country where the show was made is not white (say, in Japan), the first clause may need to be adjusted accordingly.
It's worth noting that Deggans Rule
doesn't precisely parallel The Bechdel Test
: it requires that the characters in question be in the main cast, but the clause about conversation is dropped. Since it was originally proposed during a discussion
of The Bechdel Test
, this is almost certainly intentional.
Shows that meet this requirement are more common than ones following The Bechdel Test
. Many of them do it by being the kind of show with a Token White
Named for St. Petersburg Times TV Critic Eric Deggans (and not of the webcomic Deegans
). Compare Five-Token Band
Anime and Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist is based in Amestris, which is basically the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Europe. In addition to the normal ethnic Amestrians, we've got Xingese Lin, Lanfan, Mei, and Fuu; "black" Amestrians like Jerso and Paninya; Ishvalan Major Miles and Scar. Also, if being ethnically Xerxian counts, we've also got Edward and Alphonse Elric, Hohenheim, and Father.
- Scrubs, for Turk, Carla and Laverne.
- LOST, for Michael, Jin, and Sun, among others (Eko, Miles...). Michael and Jin's very early interactions involved race, but they got past the issue quickly and were soon having Han-Chewie interaction on a regular basis.
- Power Rangers, usually with one Asian guy and one Black guy in the Five-Man Band. The few times they don't have one of each tend to be (but aren't always) when the core cast starts with a Power Trio instead - and even then at least one of the three is a minority, and there's still room for the Sixth Ranger to be non-white as well. Minorities aren't always Black or Asian, either: Power Rangers Mystic Force in particular has neither, instead having Nick (visually Middle Eastern), Daggeron (Ambiguously Brown), and Xander (Australian - visually white but with the actor's native accent). It's probably also worth noting the show is filmed in New Zealand with Fake Americans these days.
- What are Madison and Vida supposed to be? The manual says their last name is Rocca...
- Power Rangers RPM has a weird one with Flynn, a Scotsman. Played by a New Zealander.
- Power Rangers Samurai follows up with the Mexican-American Antonio. Whose actor is again neither of those ethnicities - he's half Thai, half German.
- The Middleman has Wendy Watson (Cuban) and Noser (African-American). The rest of the cast is pretty white, though.
- All the Star Trek TV series pass, except for TNG:
- TOS has Sulu (Asian) and Uhura (black).
- Brilliantly subverted, deconstructed, and/or obliterated (take your pick) in the episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Bele and Lokai are aliens engaged in a 50,000 year old battle with each other. Physically, their most salient feature is that their skins are half black and half white, the two halves split perfectly down the center of their bodies. Kirk questions the animosity between the two aliens, and is mocked by Bele who retorts, "Can't you see how different he is?". When Kirk responds in the negative, a flabbergasted Bele says, "Just look at him!" The difference is that Bele is white on the left side of his face, and black on the right. Lokai is black on the left, and white on the right. This skin-deep difference is the only reason for their animosity, and, incidentally the destruction of their home planet.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation fails because the only nonwhite human character is Geordi (who is black). However, it also has Worf (also black) who is a Klingon raised by humans (who were, incidentally, white). The show also has recurring non-white guest characters such as Guinan and Keiko O'Brien.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Sisko (black), his son Jake (also black) and Bashir (Arabic). Deep Space Nine is actually one of the more racially diverse main casts (at least the characters' races) with only ONE white human (O'Brien) and he's Happily Married to an Asian woman and they have Eurasian children. Although oddly enough 99% of the time Sisko and Jake's love interests would also be played by African-American actors even if they were aliens — make of that what you will.
- Voyager has Chakotay (American Indian) and Kim (Asian).
- Enterprise has Hoshi (Asian) and Mayweather (black).
- On NCIS, we have Vance, and . . . Ziva, I guess?
- Ziva is most likely a Sephardic (Spanish/Mediterranean) Jew, so yes. In Israel, she would not be considered European/Ashkenazi/"white," though those are not always equivalent.
- Mortal Kombat Conquest has the Asian Shang Tsung and Kung Lao, and the black Jade (not to mention a few one-shot characters). And this would be okay even with a mostly white cast, if the show wasn't set in ancient China.
- The American The Office, with Kelly, Stanley, Oscar, and Darryl.
- Lampshaded in the NewsRadio episode, "Daydream," when Catherine, the only non-white member of the cast (and who the writers clearly realized by this point they had no idea how to write for) went into the break room for lunch, and was joined by a group of other African American - and at least one Asian - coworkers, where they talk about their day and about how nice it is to work in a place with so many "people of color in it." She then snaps out of her daydream as her blond-haired white actual coworkers ask if they can eat lunch with her, and immediately start talking about Friends.
- While not completely compliant, the cast of Red Dwarf have noted in interviews how interesting it is that the main character is mixed-race, one of the other major characters is played by a black man, and nobody has ever commented on it because it's a sci-fi series. (They've also noted that being a sci-fi series frees them from having to indulge in racial discussions.)
- And he's not supposed to be a black human, but an evolved cat.
- That being said, Cat is a catlike parody of the "ultra-cool black guy" stereotype.
- The creators of Red Dwarf first approached Craig Charles for his opinion as to whether the Cat character was a racist stereotype. He said 'No' and then asked for a part in the show.
- It may be noted that the main character Lister is actually his own father. But Craig Charles, who plays Lister, is mixed-race (half black, half white).
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, Dr. George Huang, and Dr. Melinda Warner. While some episodes of the series include race as a theme (when relevant to the crime of the week), the series itself is not about race.
- Law & Order was compliant with this rule for the last fifteen seasons of its run: After Chris Noth was controversially sacked in 1995, he was replaced with Benjamin Bratt, and from that point forward, there have always been at least two minority characters on the show. One of these was always Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, who joined the 27th Precinct in 1993 and stayed until the end.
- Gilmore Girls (Lane and Michel).
- Stargate Atlantis has Teyla and Ford in season one and Teyla and Ronon from season two on. (Teyla and Ronon are Human Aliens, but they still count.) Additionally, the first season had Sergeant Bates and Dr. Grodin, both played by Ambiguously Brown actors.
- Firefly has Book and Zoe. There are also the Tams, who are supposedly half-Asian, but in this 'Verse, that's the dominant ethnicity.
- It seems that Asians are dominant in high society, politics & business in particular. The Alliance military, that one Core hospital we see and the outer planets don't have much in the way of Asians anywhere. Perhaps all the Asian people form a kind of aristocracy?
- But in a 'Verse full of Asians, not a single one utters a spoken line in the entire series. (Kaylee was planned as Chinese but they liked Jewel Staite's audition enough to change that.) There were very few Asian characters in Buffy and Angel, but one of the main characters in Dollhouse (Sierra) was Asian.
- Flashforward has has Dmitri and Stan in the main cast, plus Gough and Vreede who appear in most episodes despite not being starring.
- Flashforward makes this easily. It's worth noting that the show has an ensemble cast, but only one credited character played by a white, male American. It should get an award for that.
- The show also mentions race precisely once, in the context of Demetri (Korean-American) planning his wedding with Zoey (African-American); she implies that his parents do not approve of the marriage because she's not Korean. This is never explored or brought up again.
- The West Wing fails at least in terms of its main cast. Although Martin Sheen is Hispanic rather than white, his character is white, leaving the only non-white character in the main cast as Charlie Young, until he is joined by Jimmy Smits in the last two seasons. If Jewish characters are considered non-Whites for purposes of the test, it does a little better thanks to Josh and Toby. Not to mention that there's just no way a show about American politics can be said to not be about race on some level, as racial issues reliably pop up every 3 or 4 episodes, and are central to the last two seasons.
- The rebooted Battlestar Galactica had white, black, Asian, Indian and Latin American actors in a far-away setting where Europe, Africa, Asia, India and Latin America didn't actually exist. Although racism was a theme throughout the show, it somehow never had anything to do with the characters' skin tones.
- Heroes started out with DL, Hiro, Isaac, Micah, Mohinder, and Simone (and that's not counting recurring characters like Ando and the Haitian). Season 2 promoted Ando and introduced newbies Maya & Monica to the main cast...but after that the series, while still passing, started to get rid of non-white cast members. Season 4 barely features one (Mohinder) and ends in a way that could write out all three.
- Clueless had Dionne, Murray, and Sean.
- Ghostwriter had a predominately black, Salvadoran, Puerto Rican, and Asian cast throughout its run, with Lenni and Rob being the only major white members of the team.
- Community passes easily: of its nine main characters, only four are white (and at least two of them are members of non-racial minority groups).
- Generation 1 of Skins passes, with Anwar and Jal in the main cast.
- Micky and Martha in Doctor Who.
- Shortpacked! demonstrates and discusses the trope here. Note that aside from those two, we also have 2.5 Asians in the main cast.
- The Descendants features Kareem (Iranian) and Laurel (African American). If one wants to split hairs, you can add Alexis (described as Romani), and Warrick (Italian American).
- Avatar The Last Airbender: The main cast includes people based on Inuit, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Tibetans, and a few more. While there is antagonism between nations and personal conflicts, race is not brought up as an issue.
- Futurama, with Hermes Conrad and Amy Wong. And that's just if you only count the human members of the cast. Bender, as well as being a robot, is Mexican (his full name is "Bender Bending Rodriguez"). And then there's the mutant Leela, and the Decapodian Zoidberg, who talks like an Ashkenazi Jew.
- Fireman Sam has the Flood family: Mike (white), Mandy (black, technically Caribbean), and their daughter Mandy (mixed-race, obviously). One of the few kids' cartoons with a mixed marriage.