Grand Army: Another Excellent Teen Drama

Leidi-Di Salcedo-Urena, Staff Writer

Writer(s): Katie Cappiello (of both the playwright and the series)
Composer: Morgan Kibby
Release Date: Oct. 16, 2020
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Starring: Odessa A’zion (Joey Del Marco), Maliq Johnson (Jayson Jackson), Amalia Yoo (Leila), Monk Serell Freed (Tim Delaney), Odley Jean (Dominique), August Blanco Rose (Victor Borin), Jaden Jordan (Owen Williams).
Our rating: A+

Netflix’s new teen drama “Grand Army” is the perfect example of how directors can portray the modern day teenanger’s emotions without making it sound disingenuous or sugarcoated. The series is based on playwright Katie Cappiello’s theatrical show, “Slut: The Play.” “Slut: The Play” originally followed the life of Joey Del Marco, In the Netflix series, we say a continuation of that storyline along with the addition of other teen characters who each have to deal with their own thing. This show covers everything from institutionalized racism, to coming out to your strict parents without “softening” it. It also is not stereotypical, it is something refreshingly new considering that a lot of teen dramas are very cliche.

“I prefer when it’s not cliche, as in like the weird, outcast girl falls in love with the jock and gets the makeover that makes them fall in love. I think that’s the absolute worst.” fresh Jackeline Acosta said.

Where to begin? First off, there has been a lot of comparison to “Euphoria”, and yes, they are both extremely well written teen dramas; but here is the very distinct factor: whereas Euphoria includes plenty of imagery, “Grand Army” is very cut and dry. It does not try to glorify or sugarcoat anything; there is zero filter. This is a super-effective way of dealing with more serious or sensitive issues like racism, however, for some people, it might be a deal-breaker.

“I like shows that show imagery and metaphors, it leaves the series with more cliffhangers and gets you thinking,” freshman Sara Rafael said.

Topics like these are not necessarily meant to make anyone comfortable and “Grand Army” makes sure the audience fully comprehends that. From the viewer’s perspective, it looks and feels like you are following these realistic, imperfect, honest teens around. Sometimes it was like you were experiencing this personally and it was as if the viewer knew the characters at some intimate level. Dominique from “Grand Army” is one of those characters that keeps it real and relatable. She feels like a familiar friend—and sometimes the audience, especially POC, will see themselves in her

The actors of “Grand Army” did not come to play. Amalia Yoo, specifically, just… wow. Yes, her character Leila Kwan Zimmer was arguably one of the most dislikable characters on the show but Amalia Yoo played it so well that many viewers ended up hating her persona with their heart and soul. While on the topic of Leila, she is a very unique character that brings up both a totally different perspective as well as a very important topic not usually discussed. Leila’s character mostly struggles with discovering herself and her identity, however, she does not always go about it in the most productive, or helpful ways. Unlike other characters in the show, Leila is the only one who ever breaks the usual rhythm of the brutally honest screenplay. Her thoughts, at times, manifest themselves as an animated “The Walking Dead” like storyline.

Additionally, the setting only adds to this. It takes place at a school in New York—which does not seem like a random choice at all. The city fits the feel of the show, it fits the characters and their personalities, it fits their music choices, and adds so much to the plot. Having it set in New York, where the tragic event 9/11 happened, while also talking about how much xenophobia exists there due to that event, only adds more and more to the show. The setting is important to mention because if this had been set in any place less urban and less diverse than Brooklyn, the elements of the show would not have made as much sense as they did.

So, Netflix, when is season 2? Like “Euphoria,” it displays the teen experience in the right way, and while the shows might not be the most similar plot and element-wise, they both achieve their goal in the most spectacular way possible. “Grand Army” deserves all the hype and is highly recommended.

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