7 Movies New to Netflix This January that Pass the Bechdel Test

Happy new year, here's to more feminist binge-watching in 2019!

Dec 27 2018, 7:58pm

2019 is just about here, and whether you're dedicated to hitting the gym, learning to budget, putting yourself out there, or ignoring resolutions in their entirety this month, you'll hopefully have some down time to Netflix and chill... and also just watch Netflix. If you find yourself snowed in on a cold January night or simply bored, we recommend narrowing down your streaming options to films that pass the Bechdel Test.

If you're unfamiliar with the Bechdel Test: In 1985, cartoonist Alison Bechdel published a strip titled "The Rule" (see below) in her comic Dykes To Watch Out For, in which one woman explains to another that she'll only watch a film if it meets three requirements:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it.
  2. They have to speak to each other.
  3. The topic of the conversation has to be about anything other than men.

And like that, the Bechdel test was born. Bechdel later said that the idea came from her friend, Liz Wallace. As such, the test is often referred to as the "Bechdel–Wallace test."

Of course, the test is somewhat arbitrary and by no means a way to designate whether a film is feminist, but if we're watching movies that can't be bothered to include two women talking about literally anything but men, we're letting filmmakers get away with a pretty big disservice to their audiences.

For your viewing pleasure, here are seven films new to Netflix this January that pass the Bechdel Test:

The Addams Family

This 1991 black comedy portrays the iconic Addams family as they are visited by a man who claims to be a relative, but instead begins to secretly sabotage them. The film passes the Bechdel Test in a couple of scenes, one being when Wednesday Addams' teacher discusses her concerns over Wednesday's love of everything dark-sided with her mother, Morticia Addams.

It Takes Two

A parent trap of sorts, It Takes Two (1995) stars our favorite child stars–turned–fashion moguls Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as they try to set their parents up and kick an evil soon-to-be stepmother to the curb. The film easily passes the Bechdel Test because of conversations between the Olsens' characters, a beloved social worker played by Kirstie Alley, and a miserable gold-digger played by Jane Sibbett.

Mona Lisa Smile

Starring Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, it's no surprise that Mona Lisa Smile passes the Bechdel Test. The film scores feminism points throughout with a plot that centers Julia Roberts' character, a professor who pushes her incredibly intelligent students to seek out more than a husband from their education. Julia Roberts salary for the film, $25 million, made her the highest-paid actress for a single movie at the time.

Pulp Fiction

The 1994 American crime film Pulp Fiction follows the stories of three criminals in Los Angeles. The movie hardly passes the Bechdel Test, but Uma Thurman's iconic performance as Mia Wallace renders it worthy of this list.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Horror thrillers are generally fraught with sexism, but I Know What You Did Last Summer which not only passes the Bechdel Test many times over, but also stars two women leads, Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), is mildly refreshing for a late-90s slasher film. The film follows a group of kids who, one summer, accidentally run over a pedestrian with their car and decide to hide the body. The following summer, their actions come back to haunt them and we watch as they try to save themselves.

Across the Universe

Once you get beyond the kitschy Beatles references, Across the Universe isn't half bad, especially for a musical romantic drama that passes the Bechdel Test on more than one occasion. The film follows two lovers, Lucy and Jude, throughout the 60s as they're lured into the war and revolution that overcomes the world around them.

Incredibles 2 (streaming Jan 30)

The much-anticipated Incredibles 2 hit a nostalgic chord when it was released in theaters in 2018, 14 years after the original Incredibles release. The movie passes the Bechdel Test mainly because of conversations between Elastigirl, Voyd, and The Ambassador. The plot also features other notable feminist aspects, like Mr. Incredible becoming the primary caretaker of the children and a woman, Evelyn Deavor, as the mastermind and tech genius behind the villain Screenslaver.