[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of We Are Who We Are. Read at your own risk!]
The first season finale of We Are Who We Are fades out to the sounds of Prince’s “The Love We Make” while Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón) kiss before running into the unknown together. Caitlin only has a day before her family moves to another base (Fraser’s mother Sarah, played by Chloë Sevingy, moved her after the lives of the two families became more intertwined than anyone expected), and the two of them did their spent the final hours together at a Blood Orange concert, after taking two separate trips, before getting back together in the last moments of the show. We don’t see where they’re going if they’re rushing, and Luca Guadagnino, the show’s director, co-creator and co-writer, doesn’t let us find out: his camera pans up to the sky and the credits roll. It feels like a decent ending to a series that never wanted to give up all the answers.
As Guadagnino told TV Guide, that was entirely on purpose. The HBO drama was his first foray into television, but as any fan of his films, which include Call Me by Your Name, Suspiria, and I Am Love, knows, he always prefers not to tell audiences everything. “I want people to think about how they are feeling,” he explained as he discussed the design of the show’s finale.
TV Guide spoke to the director about Zoom from his home in Milan, Italy to discuss everything from Fraser and Caitlin’s relationship with the cameos of Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer to whether there is potential for a second season.
Why did you choose to play the show during the 2016 election? Was it always the intent to air it now during the 2020 election?
Luca Guadagnino: I didn’t plan to air the last episode the day before election day. It’s a nice coincidence to be honest. However, we planned to discontinue the series in these six months before and after the 2016 election. On the one hand, we needed a perspective to be able to tackle them at the same time so that we could use our knowledge about this semester. At the same time, there is some sort of truth-finding in the fact that this passage that these characters go through – both the characters who have to go through a passage as teenagers as well as the adults – I think it says that that happens in a very important passage also for America, when the symbolic utopian possibility of a second term from Obama went into Trump’s first [term].
Life has a strength, a power, something so violent that it cannot be tamed by the cruel politics that also become news. And I like the idea that the drive of these characters, Caitlin and Fraser in particular, is symbolically and emotionally an antidote to the brutal realism that followed Trump’s election.
I loved that most of the finale was set around and at a Blood Orange concert. I read an interview with Dev Hynes in which he said he actually did a 2016 concert in Italy that you recreated for the show. What significance does this concert have for Fraser and Caitlin?
Guadagnino: Well, it’s a date that Fraser created for them that they all forgot, but not Fraser. And it’s kind of an ability of total freedom – they’re free. They are free from everyone, including from each other, because they lose each other and separate in concert, and yet the energy of this concert, this feeling of freedom paves the way for the need to be together. And I think music has that quality.
And the Blood Orange song “Time Will Tell” plays such a big role this season too. Why did you choose this song?
Guadagnino: I especially like the lyrics. “Come into my bedroom, come into my bedroom,” I think it’s this connection request. It is wonderful.
If I talked to Jack Before the season aired, he described Fraser as “a young little Luca”. Do you agree (with that?
Guadagnino: He’s too generous. I kind of try to find ways through everything with my work, not just one character. At the same time, however, I don’t want to be someone who only does everything because I want to express a part of myself. So I like what Jack says, but maybe I don’t.
In the finale, Fraser tells Caitlin that Mark, the New York guy he’d talked about so lovingly all season, doesn’t exist the way Fraser said it would. What was the thought process that gave him such a private and idealized crush?
Guadagnino: I think Fraser would like to be greeted in someone else’s gaze. I think he really needs a male character in his life and he’s trying. I also think he’s such a bright young intellectual that the projection itself stimulates him. It is the kind of act of creation that stimulates him. It is a testament to his loneliness and at the same time it stimulates him.
Why did you choose to let her kiss her in the finale, which they both vowed never to do?
Guadagnino: Well, because Fraser realizes this is the person he wants to be with and Caitlin realizes the same thing, and kissing is an act of believing in the other.
While watching the show, I thought about it a lot something that Greta Gerwig said to do about little women, which basically was, “Childhood is something you fall back on because everything is possible and adults have limited options.” Is that kind of contrast what you wanted when developing the child and adult stories?
Guadagnino: In a way, it’s a sense of the limit we give ourselves. Not only am I interested in the limit age you are given, but also the limit you give yourself as you feel that these limits are required at your age and at your age. So it’s mainly about how you create your own parameters for limit values.
I know you are known to be not online, but I’m sure you know the internet went mad when they found out about the cameos of Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer on the show. How did this come about?
Guadagnino: Well, I had been visited by a lot of friends I love on the set, including Timmy and Armie, and I ask all of my friends, “Put something on and be on camera.” So we have Timmy, we have Armie, we have Jasmine Trinca, the great Italian actress. We have many, many friends.
So you only have good friends in high positions.
Guadagnino: Yes, it’s fun. You know, to be on a movie set it’s pretty exhausting and not a very comfortable place. So when you have friends you want to have fun.
Did you have a favorite part while creating the show?
Guadagnino: I hold the moment in my heart when Elliott Hostetter, the production designer, showed me a drawing of a lion in the library set, asking him to give my partner Ferdi the name. That was a sweet moment. It’s bitter now because we’re not together anymore, but I keep thinking about it. The impermanence of things and at the same time the testament of things.
Do you have any plans for a second season?
Guadagnino: It’s because of our wonderful networks.
I know you can’t give away what you think, but if you could describe in one word what you envision for a possible second season, what would you choose?
We Are Who We Are is now streamed on HBO Max.