Grand Army Showcases a Shockingly Realistic Portrayal of Teenagers Today


Art by Eva Smedeby

Netflix’s newest original highlights the struggles teenagers face today and addresses themes not frequently found in other shows.

Eva Smedeby, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The new Netflix series, Grand Army, realistically showcases teenage livelihood and struggles of this generation.

When it comes to teenage drama series, nowadays, we are always given an extremely romanticized and ultimately false version of reality. Unrealistic teenage body standards? Check. Solutions for every problem? Check. Shows that are supposed to give young adults something to relate to or reflect on, are instead promoting plots that couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Yes, there are a few teenage based shows out there, that challenge real issues, but most of the time, we are given the erroneous and unrelatable storylines.

Among those outliers of realistic teenage dramas is Grand Army, a newly released series on Netflix.

The show deals with the livelihood of a group of teenagers living in Brooklyn, NY, during the 21st century. Attending the same high school, all of the characters are connected in some way, despite not necessarily knowing one another personally. 

Along with Dom and Joey, other characters are dealing with things ranging from personal identity, to sexuality and anxiety; all relevant obstacles among teens today

Although there’s a good handful of characters who get screen time in the series, there is one main character in specific, Joey Del Marco, played by Odessa Adlon, that the show tends to focus on. 

In the midst of dealing with family problems, Joey is sexually assaulted by her supposed “best friends,” George Wright and Luke Friedman. She tries to act as if nothing is wrong, like most of the characters, including her aggressors, but she eventually files a police report, fighting her betrayal and pain.

While rumors are spread around about Joey, and she becomes absent from school, one of her classmates, Dominique, is sacrificing her dreams and mental stability to aid her family. 

Dominique, or better known as “Dom,” takes note of the piling finances that her mother and siblings are unable to meet, henceforth starting up a small hair business. Although a good idea at first, the business was at the expense of Dom’s happiness, where it starts taking up all of her time, leading to her falling behind in school and struggling mentally. 

Along with Dom and Joey, other characters are dealing with things ranging from personal identity, to sexuality and anxiety; all relevant obstacles among teens today.

The show also deals with problems specific to those in the United States, including systematic racism and bombers near or on school grounds. 

Reflecting on season 1, which many hope to be the first of many, Grand Army doesn’t necessarily give the happy ending everyone’s used to. On the contrary, it makes you think, and educates the audience while still being engaging.

Dealing with the fear of standing up against your assaulters, demanding for change, and identifying privilege, Grand Army is one of the most powerfully constructed teenage drama series I’ve seen yet.