Being in the moment is hard. Trying to shut off the crushing noise of the world around you is hard. Luca Guadagnino may have a solution for Gen-Zers everywhere in the series midpoint of his coming-of-age drama We Are Who We Areand it actually has something to do with another coming-of-age phenomenon: 1985’s The Breakfast Club. 

a man and a woman looking at the camera: Yannis Drakoulidis/HBO

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Yannis Drakoulidis/HBO

While most of the series so far has followed Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer) and his budding relationship with Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón) on an American military base in Italy, episode 4 shifts focus onto actor Corey Knight, who plays the chiseled, young, and newly-married cadet, Craig. Craig has just proposed to his Italian girlfriend, played by Beatrice Barichella, and has one day before he’s deployed. It’s possible they never see each other again. The episode treks along with our debaucherous yet lovable group of teens as they triumphantly shut off the voices around them for one night of R-rated fun, helping Craig and Valentina get married by pooling their money and sneaking into someone’s mansion.

a man and a woman looking at the camera: Bender's triumphant fist in The Breakfast Club gets reimagined in HBO's coming-of-age series We Are Who We Are

© Yannis Drakoulidis/HBO
Bender’s triumphant fist in The Breakfast Club gets reimagined in HBO’s coming-of-age series We Are Who We Are

In one sequence, the morning after the wedding, Craig walks through the mansion to the front door. He looks around the living room before he leaves, taking in how much fun his friends had with him there, a scene reminiscent of Bender’s triumphant strut from The Breakfast Club 35 years ago.

“One hundred percent,” Knight, 23, tells EW of the episode’s similarity to the John Hughes classic. “What we represent right there at that moment, [Craig] is really taking in everything he’s grateful for. In the small walk to the door after him waking up, he sees everyone lying down sleeping after a ridiculous night. He’s really cherishing that moment.”

Episode 4 captures a now or never moment many teenagers and young adults face: when the closest people around you leave your life at a moment’s notice. It’s a subject Hughes tackled in the ’80s. Heading into the 2020s, the Call Me By Your Name director is giving it a go.

a group of people standing in a room: Yannis Drakoulidis/HBO

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Yannis Drakoulidis/HBO

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Knight doesn’t hesitate to call Guadagnino a “craftsman” for his deep bag of filmmaking magic, including his use of cinematic parallels, cinematography (Knight says Guadagnino was always looking to shoot at dusk), and diverging storylines. Fraser and Caitlin also have time together in this episode. Both couples’ scenes, in fact, bounce back and forth in the episode.

“[The episode] is showing the audience the bond that [the group of friends] truly have, and also what they had before Fraser made everything a little different. These kids are starting to realize that they might not be with each other forever,” Knight explains.

“At this point, the kids know that [Craig] going is going to war,” he continues. “They know the chances he has, the outcomes. And that’s why when Craig looks at his wife on the bus, he knows exactly what’s on her mind. He’s putting his fist in the ground, saying, ‘I’m gonna be yours forever.'”

During that iconic final sequence in The Breakfast Club, Principal Vernon walks back into the library after the teens have left detention to collect their essays on “who you think you are.” Bender had miraculously just secured the love of Molly Ringwald’s Claire, and Brian had completed the essay for everyone.

“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong,” the essay reads. “But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.”

You can the next episode of We Are Who We Are on HBO next Monday. The series finale is set for Nov. 2.

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