Photo by: Daniella Hernandez
Maywood Center for Enriched Studies

Review: ‘We Are Who We Are,’ a story about teen gender and sexual exploration

Luca Guadagnino, an Italian filmmaker best known for his directory work on 2017’s “Call Me By Your Name,” recently directed “We Are Who We Are,” a coming-of-age teen drama series. 

The 2020 HBO show follows a group of teens and young adults as they live out their youth on an American military base in Chioggia, Italy. The show explores the nuances of teen romance and tackles topics like gender and sexual identity through an intersectional lens. 

The series first introduces Jack Dylan Grazer’s character on the show — Fraser Wilson. Fraser, a 14-year-old boy from New York, is always seen in flamboyant designer clothes and painted nails. He and his two moms move to Italy in part of his mother’s recent colonel ranking. While on base, Fraser stumbles upon Caitlin Poythress (sometimes referred to as Harper), a half Nigerian 14-year-old girl, played by Jordan Kristine Seamón. 

At first, Cate is frustrated by Fraser’s irking urge to follow her around, but eventually, she begins to appreciate his presence. He supports her gender exploration, but never forces anything upon her. As the series progresses, we see their relationship grow more complicated (and less platonic, for that matter). 

“… it’s a deeply felt recognition of teenage vitality, capturing and honoring the symphony of emotions that make so many of these youthful moments feel monumental,” Ben Travers, the author of “‘We Are Who We Are’ Review: Luca Guadagnino’s Lyrical HBO Series Is Your End-of-Summer Obsession,” said

Travers further explains that he likes that the show presents sexual expression as an innocent traverse that doesn’t further stigmatize exploration. He believes the series depicts teen life in a way that doesn’t alienate older folks or overdramatize adolescent experiences. 

People who enjoy representative media should definitely watch “We Are Who We Are.” This show addresses common microaggressions directed toward LGBTQ+ folk, women, and people of color. Additionally, the cinematography of this series not only adds to the nostalgic effect of the character’s experiences but also makes the filming composition like no other.

Click here to watch “We Are Who We Are” on HBO Max!