Grand Army realistically portrays high school

Amanda Dennis, News Writer

In the midst of a real-world global pandemic, ongoing fight against systematic oppression, and political unrest, the show Grand Army, found on Netflix, accurately depicts how large traumatizing events and social movements affect teenagers in high school. 

The show starts as a regular day in high school life and then catastrophe strikes when a suicide bomber goes off a few blocks away from Grand Army high school. Everything in the show feels authentic from the confusion, to the panic, to the texts to loved ones, to students trying to ease tensions by playing games. 

From there we are taken back and forth between our main characters Joey (Odessa A ‘Zion), Dominique (Odley Jean), Siddhartha (Amir Bageria), Leila (Amalia Yoo), and Jayson (Maliq Johnson). Although their stories are completely separate and each unique to them we see how they are all connected through high school. Just like real life classmates that attend the same school you may know them but when it comes down to it they are just acquaintances and everyone is living their own raw individual life. 

Grand Army tackles very heavy topics, one major one being sexual assault and how a teenager deals with the situation and how the trauma affects their whole life. The acting done by Odessa A ‘Zion is on point and captures all the emotion faced by sexual assault victims. She is very convincing that it just immerses you in the show to the extent that you can feel her pain and frustration. 

 The accuracy of emotion can relate to many teenagers who would be watching the show as 66 percent of sexual assault victims are between 12-17 years old as stated by RAINN, it depicts it in a way where they don’t have to feel alone. 

 There are many times where it doesn’t feel like you are on the outside looking in the show makes you feel as though you are right there with the main characters and experience everything they are especially since they are so relatable to high school students. 

A large part of the plot is injustice in the schooling and justice system. It emotionally shows how with lack of evidence criminals can walk free with no consequences and then the other side of black people bring overly prosecuted and suffering large amounts of ramifications for petty crime. 

Those repercussions can change a person. Jayson’s (Maliq Johnson) story points out how public schooling has a school-to-prison pipeline for young African American boys. They are given hard sentencing for a minor crime and when you treat someone like a criminal then they start to change because everyone views them negatively. 

High school is a time of finding out who you are and where you fit in. Grand Army shows how the pressure to be someone else can be detrimental. Leila (Amalia Yoo) a freshman, yearns for a place to fit in, changes herself to a point that her best friend doesn’t recognize her. 

I feel that is super common, especially in high school people grow and become other people and friendships fade.

Not only do high schoolers struggle with their identity socially, but sexual orientation as well. According to 9.6 percent of youth ages 18-24 identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and 67 pecent report that they have heard family speak negatively towards LGBTQ people. 

Sid (Amir Bageria) struggles with his sexuality and hides it from everyone in fear of what they will think especially his parents. As many young people in the LGBTQ community feel uncomfortable telling their parents just like Sid because they don’t want to disappoint them. 

The only part hard to swallow about Grand Army is the animated sequences. The comic book style animations are put in as a way to see how Leila imagines and processes her feelings in her own unique way. I feel that they don’t fit with the flow and the tone of the show and are very cringeworthy. 

In just 10 episodes Grand Army wrestles many though topics through the eyes of high schoolers. It is very real and raw and doesn’t feel like you are watching actors, but instead real people. 

I recommend this show to teenagers in high school because it captures the diversities and struggles of present-day life in high school and the acting is immaculate. It is real and isn’t like the overdramatized and unrealistic high school shows you normally watch.