Photo: MARNI GROSSMAN/NETFLIX © 2020
The new television show Grand Army on Netflix is set in and around Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza but the filming locations for the show are all over New York City and Toronto, Canada. The show is based off a play by Kate Capiello entitled Slut: The Play, based on the real-life experiences of teenage girls in the New York City area. Grand Army centers the action in the fictional Grand Army High School in Brooklyn.
Grand Army features a diverse cast that aims to reflect the makeup of New York City’s youth today. Grand Army High School is clearly a magnet school of some sort, bringing in students of all colors and backgrounds from all over the city. There’s no major focus at this high school, like many of New York City’s high schools, but what we have is a medley of archetypes that could reflect many schools in America — jocks, nerds, musicians, and more. Grand Army manages to give each a complex back story that also reflects what New York City is. Grand Army is a deft, no-holds barred look at complex issues like race, rape, and bullying that teenagers face today.
A sit-in during the show Grand Army. Photo: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020
There’s Sid (played by Amir Bagaria), an Indian boy from Jackson Heights who is on the swim team but he’s struggling with his closeted sexuality while in a hetero relationship. After the bombing, he is also grappling with the racial repercussions of the terrorist attack for himself personally and the tensions that arise with the approach of his first-generation parents. There’s Leila Kwan Zimmer (played by Amalia Yoo who played Joey in the original play), a freshman who just arrived at the school and is struggling to fit in. She was adopted as a toddler by Jewish New Yorkers, but at Grand Army is struggling to fit in both with the Caucasian kids and the Chinese kids, who bully for not being really Chinese. Jayson and Owen are two talented saxophonists who get suspended due to a prank during the lockdown, with long-ranging repercussions.
Odley Jean as Dom. Photo: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020
The two lead characters in the ensemble show are Joey del Marco (played by Odessa A’zion) and Dominique “Dom” Pierre (played by Odley Jean, who also played this character in the play). Joey is the captain of the school dance team, dealing with her parents’ divorce and her father’s new relationship. She’s clearly the queen bee in school, but she’ll learn that a fall can be swift and brutal. Dom is a Haitian-American from East New York who is helping to raise her siblings and help the family make ends meet.
Odessa A’zion as Joey del Marco (left) and Thelonius Serrell-Freed as Tim Delaney (right) Photo: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020
Filming for Grand Army took place both in New York City and Toronto, that other city that often subs in for New York (although less frequently in recent years). Most of the street scenes and subway scenes are shot in New York City — giving the show an authentic New York City setting — but the school and other interiors are predominantly shot in Toronto. Here are some of Grand Army filming locations you might have seen or are wondering about.
1. Grand Army Plaza
Photo: Image Courtesy of Netflix © 2020
A critical plot development early in the series is a terrorist bombing in Grand Army Plaza (no spoilers here, it’s mentioned in the description of the first episode). Before the event, we see Jayson and Owen walking the plaza and streets around the plaza, with the Soldiers and Sailors’ Arch in the background, the entrance to Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn Public Library. They run into John Ellis, who has cut out of school to have lunch with his mom. When the bombing happens, nobody in the school can locate him.