“We rise. We rage.”
Grand Army is a teen drama that has been on Netflix for the last couple of weeks. Created by Katie Cappiello (writer of SLUT, 2013 – a play that features Joey Del Marco as a protagonist, who also appears as a main character in this new tv series), it is the union of the best masterpieces of contemporary teen television.
Placed in Brooklyn, Cappiello’s work follows a bunch of adolescents enrolled in the biggest public high school of New York: Grand Army State High School. The storylines start to blend together after a bomb strikes in the same neighbourhood – it’s in the first episode, so it’s not a spoiler.
The first scene alone of this Netflix’s original series makes the viewers aware of the content they’re about to witness: Joey is in the lockers’ room, helping her friend retrieving a lost condom. In general, by following the Gen Z code, the theme of self-expression, contemporary feminism and the fight against toxic traditions, racism and patriarchy are portrayed very well.
What sticks with the viewers is, indeed, the haunting realism of Grand Army: the Generation Z that’s portrayed is socially aware, smart, wild. They’re still kids, but they’re dealing with drug dealings, rape, shuttered dreams and backstabbing friends.
Do you think it’s just a bad copy of any other teen drama you have ever watched? Well, think again.
The influence of the last couple of teen drama hits is undoubtedly present: Grand Army could be considered a fruit salad of styles and themes, but the currency of it is not something you could see in Skins or Skam. Maybe Sam Levinson‘s Euphoria, the 2019’s teen neon fantasy starring Zendaya, is the closest for what regards the rawness and majestic artsy touch.
But, even if it seems dumb, a year can make a lot of difference: I mean, Grand Army quotes the current pandemic, and is deeply inspired by New York’s multicultural youth. It treats slut-shaming and toxic relationships with actual realism, and it runs an extra mile to make it insanely painful to watch.
It’s not a perfect product: for example, there’s a very cliché LGBTQAI+ love story that we all know where it’s going but that still takes a lot of episodes to unravel; also, there are some side-storylines that are not highlighted enough, or ones that are just… not that interesting? Also, there has been some intense drama in the writers’ room, where various authors’ are claiming they were abused and racially exploited by Netflix.
Grand Army is still a tv show to watch, not just for it red-ranked content, but for entering in the life of some new prototypes of teenagers, fresh characters that are not just bad imitations of past tv clichés. This drama is a manifesto of a new generation, a horde of young adults who are more politically active and open-minded, less judgmental and obedient. You don’t fuck with them, because they know what’s up.
Grand Army is making me proud of being a Zoomer.
Because we are not entitled or childish, we know there’ s a lot of work to do to fix how fucked up our world is, and we want to change it, but we’re young, naïve, we want to party, free the nipple, drink ‘til we see stars. And we are okay with paying the consequences of our actions.