Amy (such_heights) wrote,

Merlin Meta: Race and Gender Statistics

beccaelizabeth started this current meta trend off with statistics on Torchwood - out of the speaking characters, how many are female, how many non-white characters are there, and does it pass the Bechdel test (women talking to each other about something other than a man)? dsudis crunched numbers for the first season of Stargate SG-1. lefaym also did a post last year on Doctor Who and the Bechdel Test. (If anyone knows of other, similar sets of stats out there, I'd love to see them!)

So, I decided to run the numbers for Merlin.

A couple of notes - this is looking at speaking characters only, and though I've tried to be objective as possible it's possible I've overlooked things, misjudged things, or that there are simply two valid cases to be made. (Especially with regard to the Bechdel Test, because I really wanted 'The Moment of Truth' to pass, for instance, but I don't think it does.)

Episode Title No. of Speaking Characters No. of Women % of Women Bechdel Test? No. of Non-White Characters % of Non-White Characters Death Tally
The Dragon's Call 12 6 50% Pass 2 17% 1 WM
3 WF
Valiant 10 2 20% Fail 2 20% 2 WM
The Mark of Nimueh 8 3 38% Pass 2 25% (none speaking, misc. plague victims)
The Poisoned Chalice 11 3 27% Fail 2 18% (none)
Lancelot 8 2 25% Fail 2 25% (none)
A Remedy To Cure All Ills 8 2 25% Fail 1 12.5% 1 WM
The Gates of Avalon 10 3 30% Fail 1 10% 1 WM
1 WF
The Beginning of the End 12 2 17% Pass 1 8% 1 WM
Excalibur 11 3 27% Fail 2 18% 2 WM
The Moment of Truth 10 3 30% Fail 2 20% 2 WM
The Labyrinth of Gedref 8 2 25% Pass 1 12.5% (none)
To Kill the King 8 2 25% Pass 2 25% 1 WM
Le Morte d'Arthur 8 4 50% Pass 1 12.5% 1 WF

[code - WM = white male, WF = white female, NWM = non-white male, NWF = non-white female]
[All corrections on both my counting and my maths welcome!]

Overall Stats

Out of 42 speaking parts over the 13 episodes, 27 were white men, 8 were white women, 6 were non-white men, and 1 was a non-white woman, giving us a 76/24 male/female ratio and a 83/17 white/non-white ratio.

In posts in other fandoms, people have made reference to the way these reflect the society in which the show is set. Though I would expect (well, hope for), a roughly 50/50 gender balance, the show's too anachronistic to make it worth my while pulling up figures on the different populations in Britain in the Middle Ages - which means, of course, that the set-up of the show allows them to cast as diversely as they'd like.

I'm not going to make a lot of commentary of the above figures, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions. All this really tells us is a baseline about who gets to speak, not anything else about representation or positive presentation. One last set of stats, however:

Congratulations! You've just ended up in Ye Olde Camelot. Here's how your survival chances are looking based on your gender and skin colour once you get there, assuming you get a speaking part.
  • If you are both white and male, you've got a 40% chance of dying.
  • If you're male but not white, you have a mortality rate of 67%.
  • If you're white and female it's 62.5%.
  • Good news, though! If you're female but not white, you have a guaranteed 100% survival rate. It's just that it's also 100% likely that you are in fact Guinevere.

eta: figures changed thanks to heather's correction!
eta2: and again thanks to oconel! (This, this is why I shouldn't be allowed near numbers.)
Tags: fandom: merlin, gender, meta, race
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