Series Review: American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

ACS - Ginanni V

I should preface this by saying that there are spoiler alerts!

American Crime Story:  The Assassination of Gianni Versace recently wrapped up its eight-episode run on FX.  However, critics and fans, including myself, are wondering why the fashion house icon was named in the title at all.  The first episode of the show’s stint opened with the actual assassination of Versace; a chronological reverse of the real-life events, as we all know that he was the last to be murdered by his killer, Andrew Cunanan.  This is always a luring tactic.  It draws the viewer in, especially if it was a good ending/beginning introduction because you want to see how it happened.  However, with this season of ACS, it backfired.  Beyond the first episode, there were just brief flashbacks to Versace’s life and career during mid-season, and most of those did not include direct contact with Cunanan.

The primary focus of the limited series was on Cunanan’s killing spree; a spree that spanned over four months and four states with five victims.  Cunanan was hiding in plain sight in Miami, Florida, even though he’d since been included on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.  Cunanan was a very interesting person.  He was money hungry, a pathological liar, obsessive compulsive, and a murderer to boot.

Ultimately, the show failed to connect with viewers because we had different expectations.  Some of those expectations were more interaction between Versace and Cunanan and to understand if they had any sort of relationship and more about Versace’s life because Versace was very reclusive.  This was only to find that aside from a brief encounter, they had no real ties, connections, or anything even remotely relative.  Cunanan was just obsessed with the designer.

However, Cunanan lived an interesting life that honestly could’ve held a series on its own, without trying to tie it to Versace.  He moonlighted as an escort, lied about everything from his childhood to his financial status and wealth (he was dirt broke) to telling people about non-existent relationships with celebrities such as Versace.  He was truly a spectacle, and the show would have been just as intriguing had viewers known they’d be watching American Crime Story:  The Killing Spree of Andrew Cunanan.  You’re already interested, right?

It is worth noting that the performances by the lead characters, and some supporting characters, were great.  The show stared Glee’s Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan, Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace (I personally think that Ramirez is one of the greatest actors of his generation), Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace, and Ricky Martin as Antonio D’Amico.  Who’s the Boss’ Judith Light also had a strong performance in her supporting role as Marilyn Miglin, the wife of one of Cunanan’s victims.  I was particularly wowed by Cruz’s transformation into Donatella Versace, as well as Ramirez’s transformation into Gianni Versace.  If anything, at least it had good casting.

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