TV Shows

A Guide To The Angsty Teens & Adults Of HBO’s We Are Who We Are

Adults like to assume it’s their job to tell teenagers how to see the world. Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (2017’s Call Me by Your Name), however, sees his role differently: He wants to give young people the freedom to tell their own stories, and have adults see the world through their eyes. In Guadagnino’s newest venture, We Are Who We Are, premiering November 22nd on BBC iPlayer, the director captures the story of a group of wayward teenagers coming of age on a U.S. military base.

Before filming the series, set in 2016 in the seaside town of Chioggia, Italy, Guadagnino had reportedly had ideas about the intentions of each character and plans to dazzle audiences with elaborate camerawork for each episode. But after meeting the young actors, he instead asked them to give him “input on how their characters would think, speak and behave,” he told The New York Times, and let them take the lead. “What’s the point of working with actors, or performers in general, if you do not rely on them as creative forces?” he said. 

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“They started to give me incredible social inspiration, and what I wanted is to feel and touch the breath of life coming from these people,” he said. “All my constructions that I spent many, many months on, I threw them away in one gesture: ‘No. We will follow the characters.’”
 
The eight episode series has all the young angst, confusion, and pent up sexual energy of Guadagnino’s signature works, but with the added twist of living abroad during such a politically fraught time. The story focuses on Fraser (Jack Dyan Grazer), the newcomer to the army base along with his mum Sarah (the base’s new commander) and her wife, Maggie (Alice Braga). An outsider, he becomes close with his neighbour, Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón), and together they explore the complexities of their evolving identities in a sterile military environment where order and convention rules.
 
Another stamp of Guadagnino is his subtlety; much is often left unsaid. While it makes for thought-provoking television, the mysterious around each character can be difficult to keep straight. Thankfully, we’ve got your cheat sheet.

Ahead, meet the cast and characters of We Are Who We Are.

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Fraser Wilson (Played by Jack Dylan Grazer)



Who are they?

Fraser is a 14-year-old boy who moves from New York to an American military base in Italy with his mother and his mother’s wife. Despite the fact that his mother, Sarah Wilson, is the incoming commander for the base, Fraser has a penchant for avant-garde outfits and challenging the status quo, and acts out (in many ways, to get his mother’s attention). 

Who they say they are: “I think that being a provocateur, in the good sense, means to challenge the status quo — and the status quo changes all the time,” Luca Guadagnino said of Fraser’s character, as well as the other change agents that often appear in his works. “You need to challenge it, if you are a truthful artist and creator.”

Signature Look: A graphic T-shirt, a shadow of a moustache, and expressive wide eyes.

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Caitlin Poythress (Played by Jordan Kristine Seamón)


 
Who are they? 

Cait is the 14-year-old daughter of Richard (Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi) and Jenny (Faith Alabi), and lives next door to Fraser. She shares a close bond with her father, and constantly aims to please him. She instantly catches the newcomer Fraser’s eye when he arrives on base, as she’s a young girl who, like him, questions the world around her. Cait contains much more complexity under the surface than she lets on. 

Who the actor says they are: “Caitlin definitely struggles with identity. Fraser helps her evolve and teaches her about the world outside of that military base,” said Seamón.

Signature Look: A polo shirt and khaki bottoms, likely borrowed from Fraser.

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Sarah Wilson (Played by Chloë Sevigny)


 
Who are they?

Sarah is a high-ranking military official who takes over command of a U.S. base in Italy, where she moves with her wife, Maggie, and son, Fraser. As a commander, she is no-nonsense, maintains order, and demands respect, but as a mother, she is mischievous and more mercurial — even ceding control at times when it comes to her son.

Who the actor says they are: “The rigid nature of the army, there’s just not as much room for expression so I think that it’s more of a stifling environment, which is interesting to explore,” said Sevigny.

Signature Look: A commander’s uniform and a piercing gaze.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Maggie Teixeira (Played by Alice Braga)


Who are they?
 
Maggie is Sarah’s wife and medical professional within the military who moves to Italy with her family. Though she isn’t Fraser’s birth mother, the two are close in their own way. She’s often the one who sympathises and looks after him most when he needs adult supervision — which is a lot.
 
Signature Look: Military uniform and a knowing smile.

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Richard Poythress (Played by Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi)


 
Who are they?

Richard is a military man with a strong moral code and who shares a close relationship with his daughter, Caitlin. As a Trump supporter, his politics, however, seem to be at odds with the evolving, more progressive identities and interests of his children.

Who the actor says they are: “It was something that I really had to dig deep for,” Cudi told The New York Times. “Because this character is totally different than who I am and the things that I stand for.”

Signature Look: Military uniform and a MAGA hat (in private).

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Jenny Poythress (Played by Faith Alabi)


 
Who are they? 

Jenny is Richard’s wife and the mother of Caitlin and Danny. She hails from Nigeria and helps families on the military base settle into their homes after they’ve arrived. She cares deeply for her family and is nostalgic for her life in America — she’s often checking the weather in Chicago or preparing a patriotic dessert.

Signature Look: A modest dress and a look of exasperation (most likely spurred by another one of Caitlin’s androgynous outfit choices).

Who the actor says they are: "Jenny is a conservative, lonely army wife and mother. She's yearning, although with a vague sense of what for. She goes on a journey discovering intimacy and connection, completely surprising herself, contradicting her preconceived values, and learns more about who she is along the way," Poythress told Refinery29.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Danny Poythress (Played by Spence Moore II)


 
Who are they?

Danny is Caitlin’s older brother and the son of Richard and Jenny. He’s also part of his sister’s same friend group of Britney, Sam, and Craig. Danny doesn’t quite buy the patriotic zeal of those around him. He learns Arabic and explores Islam in order to connect more to his Nigerian heritage.

Signature Look: A loose-fitting T-shirt and a heavy book.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Britney Orton (Played by Francesca Scorsese)


 
Who are they?

Britney is an outspoken and brazen teenager who acts like she owns the military base and is friends with Sam, Craig, Danny, and Caitlin. She takes notice of Fraser first and introduces him to the group. Britney’s confidence and disregard for rules is only matched by her unbridled sexual appetite. 

Signature Look: Pink hair and a smirk.

Who the actor says they are: “Britney is super confident, curious, adventurous, flirtatious, and doesn’t care about what other people think of her. She values friendship over everything and wouldn’t be who she is without her friends. Throughout the show, I would say that she struggles trying to find her way through life, but discovers her own identity in the process,” said Scorsese.

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Sam Pratchett (Played by Ben Taylor)

 
Who are they?

Sam is Craig’s younger brother and another member of the main friend group. He has a hard time connecting to his girlfriend, Caitlin, and is frustrated by her hot-and-cold attitude towards him. It’s one of the many reasons he immediately dislikes Fraser, as he and Cait have quickly developed a bond.

Signature Look: An undercut, a thick chain necklace (Connell, who?) and a pout.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Craig Pratchett (Played by Corey Knight)



Who are they?

Craig, Sam's older brother, is a young soldier at the base and best friends with Danny. Though his instincts are to take responsibility and care for his younger friend group, he’s a mischief-maker himself and often gives in so he can join in on the fun.

Signature Look: Tiny swim trunks and a commanding sense of confidence.

Who the actor says they are: "Craig is a fearless soldier. He is the heart of the group and at first he just wants to keep the love tight and bond close. But over time he realizes that they are on separate journeys and he will not be there forever. The one thing Craig is afraid of is losing his loved ones," said Knight.

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