Before I begin my review of the Netflix Original Series Grand Army I want to give it and my words a Trigger Warning. Grand Army touches on very heavy and triggering subject matter and I want everyone to be properly prepared.
Now that that’s out of the way. The new Netflix Original Series, Grand Army, tells the story of five high school kids as they struggle with sexual, racial, and economic politics while they fight to succeed and become somebody. Grand Army is based on the critically acclaimed play, SLUT: The Play by Katie Cappiello. The play tells the story of Joey Del Marco who is raped by three of her best guy friends and the fallout that happens when she comes forward about the assault. While Grand Army does stay true by telling Joey’s story, it does expound into the lives of 4 other Grand Army High School Students.
Grand Army Doesn’t Fall Into The Normal Tropes
Grand Army doesn’t fall into the typical teenage tropes and continues to push boundaries as to what we expect from a show about teenagers. This series isn’t afraid to be crass and in your face, and it lets you know from the opening scene. We meed Joey and a couple of other characters in the girls’ locker room. Sounds typical right? Nope. Joey is in the process of helping her best-girlfriend, Grace, retrieve a condom that has gotten stuck in her vaginal canal. This show ain’t for the faint of heart people. If this is too much for you, it doesn’t lessen up. You have be warned.
The actors taking on these heavy roles are phenomenal. They are strong, charming, and most of all believable. You hate them, love them, are rooting for them, and are hurt by them. However, for me, the standouts are Odessa A’zion, who takes on the role of Joey, as well as Odley Jean who plays Dom – the young, Haitian girl who has to work 3 times as hard as her white peers and she doesn’t pretend to not be angry about it.
An Enjoyable, Powerful Experience
In the end, what I enjoyed about this series and what I didn’t are oddly the same thing: the subject matter. Grand Army takes on huge subjects such as sexuality, racial injustice, terrorism, sexual assault, poverty, and more. These topics are incredibly important subjects to discuss; especially with young adults. However, while watching Grand Army you can’t help but feel trigger and beat down by the way the subject matter is handled.
While the characters are put through the narrative ringer, so is the audience. There are ZERO moments of levity, which may be on purpose. The characters don’t get a moment to breathe, so why should the audience. I guess in this way, the characters of Grand Army don’t feel like your typical teenager stereotype, but more like your everyday human being just trying to get through life one day at a time.
Grand Army arrives on Netflix Friday, Oct 16th.