Television

So Is the Kid in Luca Guadagnino’s HBO Series Basically Elio From Call Me by Your Name?

A Venn diagram where one circle contains a picture of Chalamet as Elio and one of Grazer as Fraser, with some overlap in the middle.
They are who they are, so call them by their names. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by HBO and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

If you, like me, fell in love with Timothée Chalamet as Elio in Call Me by Your Name a few years ago, you’ll be pleased to know that We Are Who We Are, the first television show from the film’s director, Luca Guadagnino, has a character who will feel more than a little familiar. The HBO limited series is also a lush coming-of-age story about young Americans in Italy—this time set in 2016, instead of 1983—and it features a certain teenage boy named Fraser, played by Jack Dylan Grazer. Whether Fraser’s quite as crush-worthy as Elio/Chalamet is for you to decide, but we can start by laying out just how similar the two are.

The Basics

The overlap begins simply enough: Elio and Fraser are both American teenagers. They look remarkably alike—so alike that other directors have noticed: When Chalamet appeared in the 2018’s Beautiful Boy, Grazer was cast to play the younger version of his character. They’re both on the pale side, with dark curly hair. Fraser has his hair bleached on We Are Who We Are so that his natural color only shows at his roots, but it almost feels like a detail added specifically to distinguish him from Elio in the face of so many other shared traits. Both characters are skinny, with boyish facial features giving way to thick eyebrows and incipient mustaches. (Though Grazer is the younger of the two, his facial hair might be further along; sorry, Timmy.) The two characters are different ages—Fraser is 14 to Elio’s 17—but if you were looking for spiritual parallels, you might note that Grazer is now the age Elio was supposed to be in CMBYN.

SAME: American, skinny, pale, boyish features, curly hair, light mustache
DIFFERENT: Present hair color, age

Family and Home

There are circumstantial commonalities as well. Fraser and Elio are both in Italy in the first place because their parents brought them there: Elio’s family spends summers in his mother’s native country (his father is American), while Fraser has two mothers, one of whom (played by Chlöe Sevigny) is set to take over command of an American military base. An article in T magazine noted that, like Fraser and Elio, Guadagnino is a third-culture kid, having spent time in several different countries and cities in his youth. As a young man, Guadagnino himself had the skinny frame and dark curls that characterize his protagonists, but he lived in Ethiopia, London, and several Italian cities growing up, meaning he didn’t have the connection to the U.S. that Elio and Fraser both share.

SAME: Takes place in Italy, brought to Italy by parents, third-culture kids
DIFFERENT: Type of home (villa vs. military base), number of mothers

Attitude

Elio and Fraser both seem surly about being dragged to Italy. In Elio, this manifests as some grumpiness and moodiness, but Fraser is more aggressive and hot-headed, even sometimes violent. We see Elio fight with his parents about a shirt he doesn’t want to wear, but he’s a generally likable (and crush-baiting) character, whereas Fraser, more unstable and unpredictable, is harder to like.

SAME: Moodiness
DIFFERENT: Likability, propensity for violence

Style

Chalamet at the end of Call Me by Your Name, speaking on the phone, wearing a button-down shirt featuring lots of illustrations.
Sony Pictures Classics
Grazer as Fraser in We Are Who We Are, standing in a school hallway wearing his light blue T-shirt.
Screenshot/HBO

Throughout most of CMBYN, Elio’s clothes are casual and preppy, but in the (devastating) last scene, he wears a button-down white shirt covered in line-drawn illustrations of faces. The shirt, which you can buy replicas of on eBay, shows that Elio’s style has shifted after his transformational summer with Oliver, and that now he’s experimenting with an artier, more individual way of dressing. Fraser, meanwhile, has his own style from the get-go. The other kids on the military base take note of how different his clothes are, even giving him the nickname “T-shirt” after the memorable graphic T-shirt he’s wearing when he arrives. Most kids wear T-shirts with the names of brands or musical acts they like, so it’s pretty odd that Fraser’s features a mysterious, abstract, pastel-colored illustration of a woman staring plaintively straight ahead.

SAME: Signature shirts featuring illustrated faces
DIFFERENT: Overall look

Music and Dance

Elio and Fraser both love music. Elio, a piano player, performs Bach, but Fraser is rarely seen without headphones and seems to have eclectic, wise-beyond-his-years taste. We see both characters dance, which neither character is very adept at: Elio kind of jumps up and down and mimics pop star moves, while Fraser flops around in a more freeform way, like a raver.

SAME: Love of music, awkward dancing
DIFFERENT: Don’t like the same types of music

Sports

Neither boy is much for sports. Elio watched other people play volleyball. Fraser disrupts a basketball game by running through it while kind of twirling.

SAME: Not into sports
DIFFERENT: Each eschews a different sport

Sex and Relationships

Sexuality is a central theme of both stories. In CMBYN, Elio is entranced by Oliver, Armie Hammer’s older, taller, beefier character who is studying under Elio’s father. But Elio is also involved with a girl from the town surrounding his summer home, and it seems like Oliver is the first man he’s been with. In We Are Who We Are, Fraser too spends a lot of time staring at an older man, his mother’s assistant, but the first few episodes don’t give us much more than that to go on in terms of his orientation. When Fraser becomes friends with a girl named Caitlin, other characters wonder what’s going on between them, but at least in the first few episodes, things seem platonic. The two seem to have recognized in each other a fluidity that they want to explore.

SAME: Crush on hot older guy who works for a parent, sexual fluidity
DIFFERENT: Main relationship is platonic thus far

Fruit

Lastly, just in case you’re wondering whether We Are Who We Are has addressed Fraser’s relationship with peaches, which you may recall serve an important purpose for Elio in CMBYN: So far, no. I haven’t watched the last four episodes, though, so there’s still time, and I wouldn’t put it past Guadagnino.

DIFFERENT: No important scenes between protagonist and peach. Yet.