Coming of age drama We Are Who We Are follows young people reckoning with their own sense of identity.

As America continues to navigate the results of the 2020 presidential election, director Luca Guadagnino takes viewers back to the 2016 contest as the backdrop to his first foray into the world of TV.

The Italian filmmaker, best known for his wistful coming of age drama Call Me By Your Name starring Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer, again returns to teenagers finding their way in the world with his new series.

We Are Who We Are tells the story of two young people living on an American military base in Italy, and explores themes around identity, friendship and teenage angst.

"I think that the show being set in 2016 is so crucial," says star Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays shy and introverted 14-year-old Fraser, who moves from New York to a military base in Veneto with his mothers, (played by Chloe Sevigny and Alice Braga), who are both in the US Army.

"Everyone was experiencing this sense of fear of the unknown and the future and what lies ahead and there's a scary thing in that. And aside from the political view, these individuals are struggling with themselves.

"These kids and these adults are scared for their future because they're asking questions of themselves and they want to develop and they have this yearning to evolve but they don't know how and they don't know which way.

"They're learning about themselves and it's a journey and we are who we are because of these questions."

Seventeen-year-old Grazer and his co-star Jordan Kristine Seamon, who plays the seemingly bold and confident Caitlin, who has lived with her family on the base for several years and speaks Italian, were given the freedom to improvise as they found their way into the roles.

"It was a challenge for me initially because I actually had to apply the capabilities of acting that I didn't really know I had," Grazer says.

"I learnt a lot about myself as an actor in that way. But Luca was so supportive of me and the other actors, and he helped us and he guided us and he gave us an insight for our characters.

"He let us figure out our characters for ourselves mostly, using the script as only a canvas and for us to spit out the paint and the art of it and create this beautiful picture, and he assumed that we know our character better than anybody, which I think is true; as long as we are in the shoes of the character, we're good."

The series also addresses questions of gender identity as Caitlin and Fraser form an intimate friendship that deepens when they learn they are both navigating the same issues.

"That was amazing," says Seamon, 17. "It was really really great to be a part of something that looked at gender identity and gender fluidity and what so many people go through, but also not making it as the only thing.

"There are so many themes, there's something for everyone to watch and something for everyone to relate to and feel comfortable with. I love that so so much, and it's amazing to see because you don't see it all the time."

Grazer nods in agreement.

"Yeah, because it is just a part of life, and it doesn't need to be a big stage show, right? It's just about the struggle and the tackling of these issues - I mean, they're not even issues, it's just questions having to be answered by yourself from your internal and they are essential questions.

"I think the show couldn't come at them at a better time, because these conversations are being had now amongst many people, and I think that these feelings exist inside all of us."

The show put both young actors through their paces and took them to some challenging places.

"I think the hardest part, the hardest things, were in the scenes where I had the least amount of lines, because I had to display the internal emotions, just through my eyes, without having to say words," Grazer says.

"They are always the hardest scenes, because you really have to be in the character. You can't just play pretend in those moments because it's not believable. You can't just play sad, you have to understand why Fraser is sad and be Fraser.

"One thing that doesn't help me is thinking of something else. I'm not going to think of my dog dying or something like that, because that's a 'Jack' problem, and that's not Jack crying, it's Fraser crying.

"So what helps me is being present and letting the series of events unravel upon me and I'm processing them, as Fraser. Jack's nowhere to be found and Fraser is the one crying and feeling the emotions."

For Seamon, the challenge came from the dual nature of her role, as the confident girl, Caitlin, she is at school and the boy, Harper, she is when away from other people.

"Caitlin is questioning her gender identity and playing Caitlin and also trying to hint at the aspects that Caitlin is still questioning and figuring out. Sometimes I did feel like I was playing two different people - in the beginning, at least.

"I tried to get better with merging Caitlin/Harper into one person and trying to not focus so much on them as separate entities, but as them as similar people going through similar things, and thinking entirely how Caitlin would feel even as Harper or how Harper feels being Caitlin."

We Are Who We Are will be available to stream on BBC Three via iPlayer from November 22 and will begin on BBC One at 10.45pm on November 24.