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Netflix’s new show Grand Army is based on the play Slut: The Play by Katie Cappiello, who is also the creator of the Netflix show. The show follows various students at Grand Army High school in New York as they deal with terrorism, sexuality, sexaul assault, racism, and home life among many other struggles.   

 

When watching the trailer for Grand Army, I was incredibly excited for it to be released, but I didn’t hear any buzz about it when it finally came out. I was scrolling through Netflix one day, looking for anything to watch, but nothing was peaking my interest. Then, there it was, the show I had watched a trailer for on Instagram that I had completely forgotten about. The show itself deals with many highly sensitive topics and can be quite graphic at times. Nonetheless however, although some aspects of the show seem a tad dramatized or a bit strange, (for example, a girl getting a condom pulled out of her vagina in a school bathroom stall by her friend), they do tackle issues that affect teenagers. Although the show itself has many characters in it, the main ones we follow are Joey Del Marco, Dominique Pierre, Siddhartha Pakam, Jayson Jackson, and Leila Kwan Zimmer.

 

I’ll be honest with you, Joey was easily one of my least favorite characters on the show because she annoyed me to absolutely no end.  She is on the dance team at Grand Army and has a reputation of being a flirt. This reputation causes her to be taken advantage of by two of her closest friends who rape her in the back of a cab while her other friend just sits there, not saying a thing. 

 

Dominique is a hard working girl who carries the weight of her family on her shoulders as she tries to help support them while also keeping good grades and playing on the school’s basketball team. Her family’s financial difficulties reach a high when her sister hurts her back at work and gets fired. Dominique’s mother suggests the idea of Dominique doing an arranged green card marriage with a nephew of a woman she knows in exchange for $10,000. 

 

Sid is in the midst of trying to figure out not only his future, but his sexuality as well. When a terrorist attack hits New York, he begins to feel the pressures from his Indian parents to not give people a reason to suspect anything of him. This comes at a time when he is struggling to write his college essay for Harvard. He is struggling with owning up to his sexuality as a gay man and writes about it in his essay. This essay eventually gets leaked and he is left to deal with his family’s opinions. 

 

Jayson is a talented, young saxophone player whose world gets rocked when he and his friend Owen are messing around during a drill at school. They take Dominique’s bag and toss her wallet which falls down a stairwell and her money gets stolen. When the teachers get ahold of this, the boys get in trouble. Jayson gets suspended for two weeks while Owen, who actually dropped the wallet, gets 60 days. Jayson begins trying to do everything he can to gain justice for his friend and put an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. He helps to organize a school sit-in to stand against Grand Army’s racist tendencies.

 

Leila Kwan Zimmer is a freshman at Grand Army who is trying to find her place in the school and in life. She is adopted from China and doesn’t feel like she fits in with any of the other Chinese students at school. She is also Jewish, but since her parents are not religious, she doesn’t feel a sense of identity there either. Leila was without a doubt my least favorite and the worst character on the show in my opinion. Through her hunt to find herself, she put everyone else’s feelings around her to the side, especially her supposed best friend Rachel. The ending of the show I found to be quite strange where she is revealed to be basically psychopathic and sends out a fake bomb threat to the school in hopes to make Rachel reconcile with her.   

Overall, I found the show to be quite interesting and I enjoyed watching it, but I can see where there are faults. I think the idea that they had going for them was good, but the execution could have been fleshed out a little more. They tend to center most of the show around Joey, which I guess in theory makes sense considering the play that the show is based off of centers around her character and storyline. It just tended to feel that the other characters’ lives and struggles came second to hers when everything being dealt with in the show are things that teenagers everywhere are facing and struggling with. I think I’d recommend Grand Army to a friend because in the end I really did enjoy the show, but I just felt there were a few problematic aspects.

Madison North is a Film and Media Arts major with a concentration in Screenwriting at Temple University.
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