Grand Army

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Grand Army TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
Excellent, intense teen series has drugs, violence, sex.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Many of the storylines in Grand Army are grim and upsetting: sexual assault, teens using each other for power, validation, or sex, everyday cruelty. However, there are moments of empathy, and demonstrations of courage and integrity amidst the more challenging aspects of the show. 

Positive Role Models

The cast is diverse, both in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, and country of origin, but also in terms of social class and gender and sexual identity. It is noticeable that a conventionally attractive white female character seems to get more screen time than other characters, though. Characters are realistic and flawed -- they can be very cruel to each other, such as when a group of male students make a list of their most "f--kable" female classmates on social media and mock those who are both on and not on the list. They can also be surprisingly kind, with best friends who are supportive and comforting, and adults who are also flawed but who at least try to understand and empathize with the cast's teens. We see and empathize with the micro-aggressions against an Asian-American character, who is called a "geisha girl" and a "China doll" by a boy trying to compliment her; and who's dismissed as "JAP (Jewish Asian princess) p---y" but other classmates. 

Violence

An episode of sexual violence is a storyline; expect to see visuals of the assault that are victim-centered but still disturbing. An episode of violence takes place near a school; we see smoke, students are subject to an emergency lockdown, and we hear about people being "blown apart." There are casual references to violence, like 9/11 and an incident in which a car intentionally drove into protesters. Animated sequences that pop up to illustrate Leila's fantasies of power can be violent, i.e. Leila throws a metal star that decapitates zombies and splits their heads in two. Two teens ride on the outside of a subway car; they're not injured. 

Sex

Sexual content is strong and mature: characters have sex with suggestive movements and noises. We see kissing and characters taking off their clothes but no nudity; they do talk frankly about subjects like masturbation, oral sex, casual sex, and body parts. One girl helps another remove a condom that was stuck inside her vagina; they then discuss the possibility that she could be pregnant, including a potential need for Plan B. Expect same- and opposite-sex romance. An incident of sexual violence is a plot point; see "violence" section for more. 

Language

Language is frequent and seems to be an ordinary part of the language of teens: "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "hell." Expect sexual words, generally used as insults: "p---y," "whore," "dick," "c--t." There are also racial slurs: "white girl," "JAP" (meaning Jewish Asian princess), the n-word. 

 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens buy and smoke pot, as well as drinking beers and, at a party, guzzle liquor from bottles and chop white powder into lines. 

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySyd the mom November 24, 2020

Good if your teen is mature

Grand Army follows 5 teens throughout everyday life and struggles. My teens (13 and 15) have both expressed how not only is it a pretty accurate portrayal of re... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySarah6012 November 13, 2020

its a good show

this show is the closet show I've seen to real life, If your child is mature enough then this should be fine but it does include a rap3 scene and that... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybrynnlucy November 12, 2020

5 stars

I loved this show! I think that it is a perfectly fins show to watch if your kid is in highschool because it displays how highschool is actually like. It would... Continue reading

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 sexdrinking, 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? 

  • How do the characters in Grand Army demonstrate courage and integrity? How do they show empathy for each other? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teen drama

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