A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Grand Army is a series about high school students in Brooklyn who grapple with everyday problems. Ultimately the tone of the show is uplifting, with characters who are there for each other and who find ways to persevere despite difficulties; there's also a lot of mature content. Sex is frequent, and though we don't see nudity, we do see characters (same- and opposite-sex) kissing, removing their clothing, and then suggestive movements that show us intercourse, masturbation, and oral sex. They also talk frankly about casual sex, oral sex, pregnancy, masturbation, body parts, and other sexual topics. A group of male classmates makes a "most f--kable" list of female classmates and characters use sexual words as insults: "p---y," "dick," "c--t." One character is subjected to sexual violence; her trauma is a major plot point. There are other references to (mostly off-screen) violent incidents, such as a bombing that takes place near the school and results in multiple deaths. Animated scenes are gory, like when a character uses a throwing star to mutilate zombies. Teens use drugs casually: separating white powder into lines, buying and smoking pot. They also drink beer and liquor, and then slur their words and seem sloppy. Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "hell," "ass." There are also racial slurs, including the n-word. The cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual identity, and socioeconomic status. Storylines are often grim and upsetting, but characters show empathy for each other, as well as courage and integrity.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In Brooklyn's GRAND ARMY high school, every student has their own story and their own problems. Dom (Odley Jean) is so busy trying to help her family stay afloat, she scarcely has time for a normal life; Joey (Odessa A'zion) is in a cold war with her conservative dad and struggling after a terrible betrayal by someone she knows; Jayson (Maliq Johnson) feels the strain of acting tough and cool when he feels anything but; Leila (Amalia Yoo) is so desperate to be liked that she accepts the abuse of classmates as if it's her due. Nobody ever said being a teen was easy, but GRAND ARMY at least makes it fascinating to watch.
Is it any good?
The students at the Brooklyn high school that anchors this engrossing series live messy, sprawling lives, and though they're sometimes grim and awful to watch, you won't want to stop. It's hard to escape the thought that these teens' experiences are something of a parents' nightmare: they casually talk about and use drugs, abuse and gossip about each other in person and on social media, accept violence like 9/11 and a bombing incident near their school as a kind of terrible ordinary backdrop to their lives. And yet in other ways, they're there for each other in ways great and small: a best friend listens to her overwrought pal's troubles, a popular upperclassman takes the time to see and to comfort a freshman girl crying in the hall.
With its big interconnected cast of gorgeous, diverse teens, and storylines revolving around sex, drugs, class, and social status, Euphoria is the most obvious comparison to Grand Army. But while Euphoria has a superficial gloss and lighting, costumes, and dialogue that never lets you forget you're watching a TV show, Grand Army feels more like you're eavesdropping on real teens. Characters are alternately exasperating, relatable, and sometimes tragic: Leila, a Chinese American girl who doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere will do anything for validation from boys, even allowing herself to be mistreated and discarded; Dom, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, works tirelessly to help care for her nieces and nephews; Sid is torn between following the rules of his strict mom and dad and going along with his friend group. There's a storyline about sexual assault and recovery that's hard to watch. But witnessing these teens fighting their everyday battles is a privilege, nonetheless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's OK to show teen sex, drinking, and drug use on television. Do shows like Euphoria and Grand Army present a realistic view of teen life, or is anything exaggerated for entertainment? What would the real-life consequences of the characters' behavior be?
Does this show make being a teen look like fun? Is it realistic? Do the teens you know look and act like this? Do they have these types of problems? Does a show have to be hyperrealistic to be enjoyable?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love teen drama
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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