Grand army highlights the unspoken troubles of youth

“Grand Army” is the latest addition to Netflix’s collection of original series. Premiering in mid-October, the show has furthered discussion around poverty, homophobia, racism and rape in relation to teenagers. Stories surrounding teenagers tend to be relatively harmless—whether  it’s the iconic “Mean Girls,” or an all-out dance number executed in “High School Musical,” the representation of high school has become unrealistic and idealized. 

“Grand Army” shatters this cinematic stereotype by adding a sense of realism and relatability to each character. Jayson and Owen—portrayed by actors Maliq Johnson and Jaden Jordan—are young musicians who have hopes of going to Julliard and showcasing their talent at the highest levels. While in school, the boys play a game of “Monkey In the Middle,” which results in a girl’s wallet thrown  accidentally down a stairwell never to be seen again. Their actions result in Owen being thrust into the school-to-prison pipeline as he is suspended for six months. 

The sheer amount of detail that goes into each scene is unmatched; the chemistry between actors gives the show a great sense of authenticity and every line has purpose. The exploration of activism within the youth is executed extremely well and the diversity of the cast allows for multiple perspectives of the problems they face. 

My expectations going into my first watch of the show weren’t high at all. I figured that it was another lackluster attempt by Netflix at appealing to its younger audience. However, after concluding the series, it’s undoubtedly one of the best Netflix originals that I’ve seen. Although there are moments where the storyline can be a bit oversaturated due to the large cast, the show makes up for it with extremely talented acting from its lead actors. The key to connecting to a teenage audience isn’t through mass appeal but through relatability, and the series hits this target in the bullseye. I found myself reflecting on similar events that some of the characters had to endure throughout the time I spent watching. Overall, the show is extremely well-written, well-performed, and well-directed, and will strike a chord with any teenage viewer at least once. 

 

Rating: 4.5/5