With this week being Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Netflix’s show ‘Grand Army’ is worth watching to educate yourself on the true nature of rape culture.
Despite being released in October, the Netflix original show still presents a relevant talking point which almost aims to encourage a physical movement towards a more progressive society.
The storyline sees five main characters power through their daily struggles of being a high-schooler, following one female protagonist in particular; Joey Del Marco (Odessa A’Zion). Her journey takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster with terrific acting and a huge turn of events that really gets the brain ticking.
The opening of the show is set in the school locker rooms with Joey trying to rummage for a lost condom that got stuck in her best friend Grace’s (Keana Graves) you-know-what. They luckily manage to retrieve the item and celebrate with with a quick sigh of relief and a cheer. This, as you can tell, clearly sets out what kind of intimacy and chaotic tones the rest of the show will relay.
Joey raises awareness of extremely prevalent matters like the ‘free the nipple’ movement where she antagonises her teachers by going bra-less to school. Throughout the show it’s evident that the decisions which she makes in demonstrating what it’s like to live in a ‘woke’ society, end up with her being sexualised and almost viewed as a joke.
Several episodes in, Joey gets sexually assaulted. The way in which this is portrayed on screen and the responses from friends and family is a true reflection on how today’s society handles sexual abuse; a serious subject that is often not dealt with in the right way. The scenes following the assault bring to light the emotional distress that come from others’ actions.
It soon becomes triggering to see how responses to the allegations include ‘she was asking for it’ and the victim-blaming stereotype is perpetuated. These types of issues are the ones that need to be raised during this awareness week and ‘Grand Army’ is perfect to do so; although we do hear about this behaviour, it’s never really shown on-screen.
Following this series of events, she demonstrates the knock-on effects of the trauma including PTSD, panic attacks and anxiety, all of which later leads to drug use. These are all extremely relevant and hard-hitting realities for thousands of people and highlight the importance of the need to change how society responds to these situations.
Despite the sexual assault being the pinnacle of the storyline, there’s another main character whose journey we follow, Leila Kwan Zimmer (Amalia Yoo). Her emotions amidst her journey to finding herself are expressed through an inner persona that she struggles to bring to surface which is interestingly presented by an array of animated snippets.
The idea behind the animations can be slightly confusing at times and very unexpected, but are also an extremely engrossing depiction of how the inside of someone’s head can relay completely different emotions that are contradictory to their actions.
After watching ‘Grand Army’, I felt an urge to broadcast the key messages inferred and encourage others to watch the captivating triumph of a show, particularly whilst this week we intend to spread national awareness of the surrounding issues.
If I’ve done enough to convince you, then go grab the popcorn, get under your duvet and switch on the TV – because it’s time to immerse yourself in the show.
If you are struggling with any of the issues stated above, then please see the details given below.
- Rape Crisis Helpline at 0808 802 9999
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
- Lifecentre 0808 802 0808
- Or visit https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/abuse/sexual-abuse/ for more information regarding contacts
By Kirsty Massey