Teen dramas typically seize the angsty realities of adolescent life, however most do not have roots in precise occasions. Netflix’s gritty Grand Army echoes actual life, centering its plot round a terrorist assault paying homage to Sept. 11. Set in a contemporary backdrop, it follows the lives of 5 college students at Grand Military Excessive Faculty in Brooklyn. However is Grand Military based mostly on a real story? Nicely, the reply is each sure and no.
The sequence is loosely based on showrunner and screenwriter Katie Cappiello’s play, Slut. Slut itself takes inspiration from the real-life experiences of teenage women from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Starting in Jan. 2012, Cappiello labored with Meg McInerney and her younger college students to develop Slut at The Arts Effect All-Girl Theater Company. (Cappiello labored because the creative director of The Arts Impact, whereas McInerney acted as its managing director.) Cappiello put the script collectively after creative sessions and discussions across the sexualization of women.
In its finalized product, Slut‘s storyline follows 16-year-old Joey Del Marco, who’s assaulted by three mates whereas going out in New York Metropolis. Within the sequence, Odessa A’zion portrays Joey — however Cappiello really drew extra from her earlier work than simply Joey. Cappiello additionally constructed upon Slut characters Leila and Dominique for Grand Military. Actress Odley Jean, who portrays Dominique, is definitely certainly one of Cappiello’s former college students. In line with Jean in an Entertainment Weekly profile, Dominique “hits so near house as a result of she’s first era, she’s Haitian, she’s preventing by college.”
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Cappiello mentioned that the sequence is her “life’s work in so some ways.” She added, “I will be 40, in September, and I’ve spent 18 years of my life, making this mission.” Aside from Slut, Grand Military is predominantly based mostly on Cappiello’s work as a theater teacher over time. Lots of the concepts within the sequence got here from her conversations with college students.
“It is years of listening to my college students discuss, it is years of going to bar and bat mitzvahs. It is years of getting youngsters name you as a result of they do not know how they’ll afford college, and may you discuss by that with them, and attempt to assist them determine a plan? It is after they’re scuffling with their mother and father, who can they discuss to, and may I like to recommend a plan of action?” Cappiello advised EW.
The sequence notably focuses on youth of shade, although Cappiello herself is a white woman. Relating to the matter of race, Grand Military has had its fair proportion of controversy behind the scenes. When Netflix launched the trailer, playwright and screenwriter Ming Peiffer penned a series of tweets about her expertise engaged on the present. She defined that she and two different writers had stop the sequence, citing “racist exploitation and abuse.” Peiffer alleged that Cappiello, the showrunner and creator, referred to as HR on a Black author for getting a haircut. She additionally alleged that Netflix tried to underpay an Emmy-winning Latinx author who had expertise engaged on TV. (On the flip facet, Grand Military is Cappiello’s first main TV credit score.)
Neither Cappiello nor Netflix commented on these allegations. Grand Military is steeped in controversy, however one factor is definite: its tales undoubtedly transcend Cappiello’s experiences.