Relevant, recent, riveting: Netflix hosts top teen show

Ella Davis, Web Editor

Grand Army is a nine-episode teen series streaming on Netflix. It follows five students attending the title school in New York City months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Season one touches on themes of racial profiling, substance abuse, sexual assault and cultural assimilation—all of which are extremely relevant to today’s teenagers and are commonly at risk for being misportrayed.

What sets Grand Army apart from its competitorsthink 13 Reasons Why, Degrassi, and Euphoriais its presentation of tough issues and its representation.

One of the major pitfalls of teen dramas is that they are meant to start a conversation but do so via shock value. Grand Army has its share of explicit scenes; however, it has not received backlash over the glorification of suicide and sexual assault like 13 Reasons Why or criticism of excessive nudity like Euphoria. The show walks the line between avoiding tough topics and exploiting topics by showing the effects of these issues instead of using graphic and unnecessary depictions. The focus instead shifts to strained relationships between the characters’ families and friends as a result of their trauma and stress.

Another thing Grand Army does is provide meaningful representation, something often missing in teen shows predating the 2010s. There are characters of color, bilingual characters, characters exploring their sexuality, characters of multiple faiths and characters struggling to conform or break away from their families’ cultural expectations. Most importantly, they are not defined by these identities. The show is not trying to earn diversity points with token characters: it is reflecting today’s America. And today’s America is a place where Black students and their allies organize protests against racial injustices, where students collaborate to combat sexist school policies and where multicultural kids struggle with their self-applied outsider identity.

Grand Army gives these kids a piece of media to identify with and lets them know it’s okay for them to struggle to find their place in an increasingly diverse and divisive world.

All of these elements combined with its smart writing and powerful, honest performances make the show a must-watch. So what are you waiting for? Go experience Grand Army for yourself!