We Are Who We Are: Luca Guadagnino's HBO Drama is An Immersive Affair

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Being a teenager is a complicated web of emotions. 

With teenage dramas filled with more cliches as the years have passed, We Are Who We Are is here to prove that there is still life left in the genre. 

It makes sense, then, that Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino is behind the series because his immersive way of telling the story on-screen translates very well. 

We Are Who We Are Pic

With shots that would typically be reserved for movies, every single beat of We Are Who We Are tells a wonderfully nuanced story, and that extends to the scenes in which there isn't much action going on. 

This style of direction comes with a lot of caveats, and those mostly come down to the actors at the wheel of the story.  There's no sense in utilizing sub-par actors who cannot carry the show, and We Are Who We Are has an astoundingly talented cast. 


Jack Dylan Grazer has shot to fame in the last few years with roles in the rebooted It franchise and Shazam! Playing a teenager named Fraser trying to find himself in the world is a completely different role for him from anything else he's done.

Fraser has been forced to leave his whole life behind as a result of his mother's new post in the military, and while he tries to put on a brave face, he is simmering with resentment. 

He's a New Yorker at heart, and he grapples with living in Italy, on an army base, no less. It's certainly a different way of life for him, and he doesn't feel like he fits in with the others on the base. 

There are hints of him feeling like a fish out of water, but also that he's felt like this for a long time. There's a good story in there as he comes to terms with this way of life. 


Being in a different country from his best friends means that he has to start the process of rebuilding his life, while simultaneously trying to find himself. 

Chloë Sevigny (American Horror Story) and Alice Braga (Queen of the South) are on board as his mothers, and I would just like to take a moment to praise the TV gods for bringing these two women together on screen. 

They are a match made in TV heaven, and their portrayal of two women in love on an army base will be remembered for years to come. 

Representation matters, and many TV shows and movies represent members of the LGBT community as one-dimensional, but here, we have a multi-layered couple who are very much in love. 


Sarah (Sevigny) moves her family to Italy when a job offer comes up that she cannot refuse, and her wife is a part of that process. 

The base is where Fraser crosses paths with Jordan Kristine Seamon's Caitlin, a teenager he is drawn to immediately, despite not speaking to her at first. 

Caitlin is another well-written character. On the surface, she seemingly has it all, from a big group of friends who adore her, to a boyfriend who does not want to spend any time away from her. 

Caitlin's relationship with her father is great, and it's clear from the jump that she's a father's girl, and her relationship with her mother is not as strong as she would like. 

Two Friends on We Are Who We Are

It happens in life, some children are drawn more to one parent than the other, and it's evident that Jenny (played by Faith Alabi), Caitlin's mother, is hurt by that. 

Jenny is also given some great storylines, and there may be a hint of resentment in there. She's continuously cooking to keep everyone happy, but she also checks the weather in Chicago every day. 

It could be that she's moved to Italy because of her husband's job and isn't as excited about living there as everyone else is. 

There is a lot happening on the military compound, and after the first four episodes screened for critics, it's clear the series has a lot to offer. 

Having Fun on We Are Who We Are

We Are Who We Are, as the title suggests, is a series about being comfortable in our own skin, and all of the characters are on a journey to becoming the best version of themselves. 

Yes, there will be heartbreak, but they all want to find themselves, and coupled with the robust acting and stunning visuals, We Are Who We Are accomplishes its goal. 

We Are Who We Are continues HBO's foray into younger-skewing programming, on the heels of Euphoria

Fans have been waiting a long time for the second season of the Zendaya-fronted drama, and it looks like there will be a long wait given that production has not started. 

We Are Who We Are is the perfect show to fill that Euphoria-shaped void. 

We Are Who We Are launches on HBO Monday, September 14 at 10/9c. 

Will you check out the series? 


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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