A Review of Grand Army, a Netflix Drama

A Review of Grand Army, a Netflix Drama

Gabby Simpson, Staff Writer

Grand Army has many intertwined stories between the five main characters: Dom, Joey, Leila, Sid, and Jayson. They attend the largest public high school in Brooklyn, New York. During this time, they go on a journey in their chaotic society. They try to survive and seize the moment, as well as break free from their barriers. 

Being in high school, I can vouch for the accurate representation of the behavior, attitude, and languages that are used in the show. Grand Army deals with serious themes such as racism, immigration, sexual assault, homosexuality, bystander trauma, and gender bias, many social issues that we face today. The five main characters have different backgrounds from one another, so we see many different perspectives that each of us can relate to. 

When I watched the show for the first time, I was not expecting the first episode to go from a normal day at school to a bomb going off. Everyone in the school is put on lockdown, and this is where we meet each of the characters. Dom, Joey, and Jayson are in the stairwell with the rest of the school. Jayson and his friend Owen start messing around during the lockdown and take and play with Dom’s wallet. Dom gets upset and tries to get it back from them, but they do not let up. Joey interferes and tries to stop Jayson and Owen, but Dom does not want her help. Soon, they drop her wallet down the stairs, and Dom loses money that was supposed to be for her family. The teacher comes up the stairs and wonders why everybody is messing around during the lockdown. Joey tries to say what happened, but Dom does not want her to interfere in something that has nothing to do with her. Joey says something anyway, and this leads to a cycle of events that change everyone’s lives. 

Then, we meet Sid and Leila who are stuck in a classroom together. It’s Leila’s first year and first day at school, and she only has one friend. She is Chinese but she was adopted from birth. Two other Chinese girls speak in Mandarin to Leila, but she doesn’t understand what they are saying. Since she grew up in America, she never learned how to speak Chinese. This makes Leila feel horrible since it’s her first day of school, and she feels like she’s being attacked. That is only until she meets Sid, and he reassures her that it will get better. This is the moment that we think Sid is a good guy, but he does something that made me give him the side eye: he put Leila’s name down on a list that degrades certain girls in the school. This list was made by the swim team that Sid is on. Sid tries to be people pleaser but that does not help him in the long run. All of this happened in the first episode. There is so much more to it, but I tried to give a brief description of what happened in the beginning.

I followed the stories of two other main characters, Dom and Joey, and I realized how much of their stories come together. Joey is your average white girl feminist leader at the school. She starts a movement that is performative activism, and she does other things that speak true to that description of her. Dom is your real activist at the school because she stands up for what is right. There is one scene where Dom and the basketball team take a kneel during the national anthem because of the meaning behind it and what happened with a black man being murdered. Joey had her hand over her heart while the anthem was going on, but it wasn’t until she saw hecklers in the stands and took a kneel. She forced her friend to take a kneel as well. Dom saw this and gave Joey this “what are you doing” face because not even seconds before she was standing with her hand over her heart. Joey does this for social reasons, not because of the real meaning behind it. It’s like she wants to be part of the movement for social gain instead of the devotion to the cause, unlike Dom who wants to be part of the movement because she wants to make a change.

This show has been so raw and emotional, especially for a show in a high school setting. I started this show and finished it in one day, and I felt the authentic pain and joy throughout the show. I was easily drawn to the show, and the fact that the writers didn’t shy away from realistic storylines made the show 10 times better. It was like someone in the writer’s room said, “We need to make a show for the young people that  doesn’t shy away from current events.” Give this show a watch, and then question how you view your society and where you fit in the world.