FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” brings to life a horrific tragedy, expertly using the medium of dramatic television to do so. This is the true crime anthology series’ second season, and the first season aired in February 2016 and featured the infamous O.J. Simpson court case as its backdrop.
While the first season was well-written and acted, featuring outstanding talents such as Cuba Gooding Jr. and John Travolta, American Crime Story’s current season brings with it the same level of dedication with an arguably more tragic story.
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” dramatizes the murder of iconic fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was brutally gunned down outside his lavish Miami residence in broad daylight in 1997.
The man who killed Versace, Andrew Cunanan, was a psychotic pathological liar with a genius IQ level. He was on the FBI’s most wanted list and had already butchered four people before Versace. A toxic mix of bureaucratic laziness and homophobia allowed this to happen. The show explores this beautifully by portraying the FBI agents in charge of the manhunt as unmotivated and disinterested in capturing Cunanan – that is until he murders a celebrity.
The FBI agents and other law enforcement pursued Cunanan half-heartedly because he was a gay man killing other gay men. They made too many careless mistakes, like not warning the Miami gay community when they knew Cunanan was in the Southern Florida area, which ultimately allowed Cunanan to take the life of Versace.
In addition to a fascinating true life story, the show, like its previous season, features phenomenal actors such as Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace and Ricky Martin as Antonio D’Amico, Gianni Versace’s partner of 15 years. However, the actor whose performance deserves special praise and recognition is Darren Criss as the terrifying Cunanan. Criss portrays Cunanan as both empathetic and as the vicious, sociopathic murderer that he was.
Beyond the compelling true story and great acting, “American Crime Story” brings the terrifying events of Cunanan’s rampage to life through certain artistic triumphs, like shooting on scene at Versace’s actual home where the murder took place. The show is respectful of Cunanan’s lesser-known victims, such as Lee Miglin, by honoring their memory as well as those whose lives were shattered by Cunanan’s actions.
Out of nine episodes, the show’s third episode aired Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. so it’s not too late to catch up and enjoy the rest of the season.