We Are Who We Are: Season 1/ Episode 3 “Right here, right now #3” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

As Caitlin grows closer to Fraser, and even his family, it begins ripping apart everything.

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Director(s)Luca Guadagnino
Writer(s)Paolo Giordano, Francesca Manieri, Luca Guadagnino
Aired (HBO)9/28/2020

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Recap

Over In A Snap – Sam, Caitlin, Britney

It is around August at this point, and while it isn’t necessarily clear how much time has passed since Fraser’s arrival, Sam does feel the distance. Hence him breaking up with Caitlin and hoping for some kind of reaction from her, but she gives him nothing. Rather, she seems cool to the point of it appearing she didn’t have the heart to do it and is happy he pulled the trigger.

Sam sitting on bleachers.

This leaves him devastated, and Britney swooping in to check on Sam. Now, whether or not it is because she has had her eye on him or because he is a friend, it seems too soon to tell. However, Britney does seem to at least want Caitlin to understand Sam and his point of view. Thus pushing the idea, maybe she is just making an effort to keep the group together.

Life As A Placeholder – Richard, Jennifer, Maggie, Sarah, Caitlin, Fraser, Danny, Craig, Jonathan

You know why Danny hates Caitlin? Because as much as he loves his mother, he wants a relationship with his dad, and Richard doesn’t necessarily want the same. In fact, he drops everything, including Danny, upon the sight of Caitlin and asks for her when she doesn’t show up for a tug of war he is having.

So, as you can imagine, Danny losing his father to Caitlin, their mother’s desperation to connect with their daughter, and now the friend group breaking up? It makes Danny pissed. So pissed he wants to fight Caitlin, Fraser, and only Craig gets him to calm down. Heck, Craig also gets him to push back against thoughts of suicide, since things are getting that bad.

But we should note, it isn’t just Danny who feels like a placeholder. Jennifer does similarly. She has had to Americanize herself, including her cooking, for Richard. Which perhaps is why she finds herself so uncomfortable around Maggie, who joins her for a local celebration. How can you be around, even friends, with someone so free while you are shrinking to fit into someone else’s world?

Jennifer noting she doesn't know who she is anymore.
Jennifer: I don’t know who I am anymore.

Yet, it seems just as much as Fraser finds some solace in the grounded Maggie, so does Jennifer as Maggie asks about her culture, her desires, and makes Jennifer feel seen. Just as Sarah does for Caitlin over dinner. But, the problem with Sarah making Caitlin feel seen is that it means her attention is off of Fraser. And with Fraser trying to establish something that’s his, watching Sarah enchant Caitlin and later dance with Jonathan, a possible crush, you can see why he hates her.

Where To From Here? – Caitlin, Fraser

Fraser isn’t like the other boys, and that makes him attractive. Not romantically, but in a way which makes Caitlin feel safe. For while the boy can’t fight, he can provide the space to just be seen, validated, and exist with perhaps some annoying opinions, but them never feeling like criticism. So with that in mind, and it not being clear what Fraser is, there are pokes and prods to see how he feels.

For example, Caitlin repeatedly mentions how people think they’re dating to see Fraser’s reaction. Caitlin also brings up Jonathan to see how Fraser reacts, and the only response she gets is that because his mothers are lesbian doesn’t mean he is gay. Also, while he recognizes how close he and Caitlin are getting, they aren’t going to kiss. This may not be the most conventional way to say he isn’t into her like that, but Caitlin has adapted to how Fraser talks.

Review

Highlights

The Platonic Intimacy

I think we’re so programmed to think that, when two people, be it men, women, or an intermix, have a certain level of chemistry, it has to be sexual or lead to sex. However, “We Are Who We Are” seems to want to push against that. It wants to allow people, young people especially, to understand vibing with someone, even the concept of them being your soulmate, doesn’t mean you need to date them. Sometimes, you should just enjoy the intimacy and know it goes beyond the use of genitals.

Rather, as seen with Caitlin and Fraser, it could just mean a mobile safe space. Someone who allows you to be who you are, either in terms of who you want to be or the person you don’t feel safe to be around most people.

Heck, even Jennifer and Maggie show how platonic intimacy can work when one person is queer. Mind you, in the season trailer,[1] it is hinted something may happen between Jennifer and Maggie, but for now it seems like Jennifer is experiencing what Caitlin is. She is getting the attention of someone who not only sees her but wants to see her grow, experience the revolution going on inside of her, and see her succeed. All the while, things not being one way for what they are looking for is just the same.

Fraser laying down some boundaries.
Fraser: We’re never gonna kiss.

For, in our eyes, Fraser isn’t just investing in Caitlin since he finds her beautiful or even the concept of her playing with gender interesting. As shown, he also sees Caitlin, or Harper, as his person. Someone who isn’t connected to his mother and may have divided loyalty. He can share his thoughts, secrets, and while she may not understand anything, she’ll listen and try to. And, at the end of the day, what most people want is effort.

Then with Jennifer and Maggie, as shown, Maggie is a bit isolated. Sarah has work, Fraser isn’t consistently trying to allow her the maternal role, so who and what does she have? She is a Brazilian woman far from home, with no family around beyond her chosen one. So Jennifer is her person for when Sarah isn’t available, or maybe enough.

Sam Being Vulnerable

Seeing Black boys be vulnerable, it just seems so rare. So watching Sam sulk, be on the verge of crying, and desperately wanting Caitlin to fight for their relationship was a sight to cherish. For while it does push you to recognize his inability to communicate, it also reminds you how many people love the idea that they can vibe with someone to the point words aren’t necessary. Yet, with there being a disconnect, you can see Sam wanted to press to see if his insecurities were getting the best of him or if he was right.

And damn if he wasn’t right.

Low Point

On The Fence

So, About Fraser Needing Psychological Help

While we get why Fraser wouldn’t like him mom, the hair pulling and beating can’t be excused. And while it does push you to wonder what was Sarah’s upbringing like to think she deserves this, or to understand why she allows it, increasingly, I don’t wish to say this brings value to the show. Similar to Richard being a Trump supporter, it feels like Fraser’s abuse of his mom is an aggressive way to keep you from being too in love with the character. Making it so, at best, each hair pull and assault is a wake-up call to remind you not to see Fraser with rose-colored glasses.

Danny

Danny dealing with his dad abandoning him for Caitlin.

When it comes to Danny, his struggle is something that feels touched upon but is still bubbling. As if the desire is for you to treat him like a second thought as he feels when interacting with most people. Yet, through Craig, you can understand him feeling seen and how nearly everyone has and needs their person. Otherwise, they are on auto-pilot, like Jennifer, who others want them to be, like Caitlin, or feel like they are drowning, like Danny appears to be.

[1] https://youtu.be/u6VAQ6LdnKs


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