By Marcus Jones
September 02, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT
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JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX

Just in time for back to school season, Netflix dropped the first look for their newest teen drama series Grand Army.

The show puts a spotlight on five enterprising young adults attending Brooklyn's largest public high school.

While the Big Apple setting may bring in comparisons to Gossip Girl, the new streaming series casts a much wider net for its ensemble, telling stories of Chinese American freshman Leila Kwan Zimmer (Amalia Yoo), who was adopted by Jewish parents, well-rounded Indian student-athlete Siddhartha Pakam (Amir Bageria) coming to terms with his sexuality, and Black aspiring musician Jayson Jackson (Maliq Johnson), and more.

JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX
JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX
Netflix

Grand Army was created by playwright and theater educator Katie Cappiello, who tells EW the show is her "life's work in so many ways. I'm going to be 40, in September, and I've spent 18 years of my life, making this project."

Cappiello's work has stemmed from extensive conversations she's had with students that have covered a whole range of topics. "It's years of listening to my students talk, it's years of going to bar and bat mitzvahs. It's years of having kids call you because they don't know how they're going to afford school, and can you talk through that with them, and try to help them figure out a plan? It's when they're struggling with their parents, who can they talk to, and can I recommend a course of action?" Grand Army in particular is "taking all of that time, and then all of those years and all those relationships, and fusing them into these five characters."

MARNI GROSSMAN/NETFLIX
JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX
Netflix

Odessa A'zion, who plays outspoken it girl Joey Del Marco, praises the resulting scripts that came from Cappiello, saying “I don't know, a single high school that isn't dealing with a million of these things at once.” Odley Jean, one of Cappiello's former students who now plays resolute junior Dominique Pierre adds that her character “hits so close to home because she's first generation, she's Haitian, she's fighting through school.”

With its no holds barred approach to depicting the beauty and chaos of growing up in New York City, Jean anticipates Grand Army will "spark a conversation no matter how [viewers] take it."

JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX
MARNI GROSSMAN/NETFLIX

Watch the teaser for Grand Army, as well as some exclusive first look images of the show, above. The show premiere Oct. 16 on Netflix.

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