The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (open spoilers)

Well I’m hooked already. I loved the scene where Versace & Cunanan; it was so awkward at first I just wanted to turn away. And the scene of the police interviewing Antonio D’Amico neatly demonstrated just how far we’ve come in the last 20 years.

The People Vs. O.J. was fantastic, so I had high hopes for this and so far so good. I also had trouble watching the awkward conversation, but I can understand how Cunanan could worm his way in to situations. I haven’t seen Darren Criss other than the bit parts he’s had on American Horror Story but he’s really good in this.

Also, the whole episode was gorgeous. Not just the Versace mansion, but everything.

Seriously. Just fantastically done cinematography.

One of my favorite parts of People vs. OJ was the fun casting, and this doesn’t disappoint either - Ricky Martin, Penelope Cruz, etc.

I think I might hate more Andrew Cunanan for his over the top fake backstories than for the murders. Still that scene at he club where he blurted out all of his “occupations” was pretty hilarious. :slight_smile: And it looks like they’re going with the theory that Versace’s cancer was actually HIV. :dubious:

Just caught up on the second episode, and found it very disturbing. I guess I mean that in a good way – it’s a well-done show, and a depiction of a sociopathic serial killer should be disturbing – but although there was less violence in this one than the first one I’m not sure I’ve cringed in horror that often watching any other crime show.

I saw him on Glee, where I thought he was a better singer than he was an actor. I mean, his acting was fine, but he wasn’t even the best of the “kids” on Glee and I wasn’t convinced he had much range. In the first episode of Versace I thought he was again fine but wondered why his performance had received such good reviews. But I thought he was chilling in this second one.

What’s especially creepy is that Cunanan’s “charming” persona is played pretty much like Criss’s character on Glee – a polite, well-educated, somewhat pretentious but friendly young gay man who’s determined to make his dreams of fame come true.

I’m liking it. I had a vague recollection that there was something really weird about Cunanan, but I had no idea just how fucking weird his story was!! The actor playing him is doing an excellent job, as is the one playing Versace. Cruz, of course, is fantastic. I wonder if the FBI/police were as much a bunch of bumbling fools as they are shown.

While I remembered the basics of the Versace murder more-or-less accurately, I’m not sure I ever knew anything about Cunanan’s previous crimes. I was surprised to learn from the promos for this series that he was a serial killer and that Versace was his final but far from his only victim. I’m sure this must have been reported at the time – it apparently didn’t take the police long to connect Versace’s murder to the already-wanted Cunanan – but I don’t remember hearing about it.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any creepier an adult Andrew Cunanan get’s a bath from his mother while she sings to him. :eek:

What, you prefer she bathe her adult son in awkward silence?

Finally, Versace showed up again. Also Andrew’s job interview with the madam at the escort agency was hilarious.

I’m not enjoying the telling-the-story-backwards gimmick. They can throw all the dates up they want (and don’t always, I think), but it’s been over 20 years since Versace died so it kind of doesn’t help much.

I don’t mind a show that shows me the end and then goes back to the start and progresses chronologically. A movie that jumps around and is crystal clear (like Memento) is fine. I don’t even mind This Is Us playing with timelines. But I hate it in this. Maybe if I liked it as a whole I might enjoy it, but it just underscores that this season is kind of a mess. It’s a symptom, not a cause. A symptom I could maybe call a plus if it was as good as OJ season.

Agreed; I hate the backwards storytelling. This season isn’t as good as last season.

Just caught up on the last episode. I’m also not loving the backwards structure, particularly with this episode where a lot of what we saw was stuff we’d already heard about. The big exception, the murder of Lincoln Aston, seems like something that should have been mentioned previously. I think it worked to have the murder of Gianni Versace in the first episode, but then the second episode could have been the earliest one chronologically (which I think will be the one this week) and things could have moved forward from there.

That said, had this story been told in a more conventional fashion then Andrew Cunanan might have seemed too sympathetic as he tried and ultimately failed to win over the cute guy he had a crush on. These past two episodes there were certainly moments where I wanted to say “Dude, you’re just embarrassing yourself now”…but since we’ve already seen Cunanan murder David Madson and four others, it’s painfully obvious who really deserves our pity.

I had an easier time feeling sympathy for young Jeffery Dahmer in My Friend Dahmer than I am for Andrew Cinnamon. Still his childhood was explained some stuff. I didn’t even realize he had siblings until last night. And apparently some of his ridiculous childhood storied are actually true. I’m looking forward to the finale next week, but this season hasn’t been nearly as good as season one.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Well, that’s kind of my point. I would have found it offensive had the series tried to present Cunanan as a sympathetic figure, because I don’t think he deserves it. But if the series had opened with Cunanan’s messed-up childhood, or with him working in a drug store and dreaming of fame and fortune after his father abandoned the family, and not getting to his first murders until several episodes in, then I think many viewers would have found him a lot more sympathetic – even if that wasn’t the intent of the show’s creators. And while a sympathetic main character is usually desirable, in this case I don’t think that would have been a good thing.

But like I said, I’m not crazy about the backwards structure. I think there are other ways the story could have been told that would have been even more effective.

Bumping this thread to mention that I recently checked out Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors from the library. I’m only about 150 pages in, but it’s helped to clear up some things that had confused me about the most recent episode.

In last week’s episode we saw Cunanan meet his friend Lizzie at a party in high school. She says she’s married, and it’s not clear how old she’s supposed to be. Back in the first episode we saw that Cunanan had lived with Lizzie and her husband for a while and had also been in college around the same time. However, I wasn’t clear on when this happened as in the last couple of episodes it looked like Cunanan went right from high school to working at the drug store and living with his mother.

In real life, Cunanan met Lizzie before she was married. (They were about the same age – she married at 18.) Pete Cunanan fled the country a year later than depicted in the series, after Andrew’s freshman year at UC San Diego. Cunanan dropped out of school due to lack of money and moved in with Lizzie in Berkeley. He continued living with her and her husband for almost three years and was (as we saw him claim in the birthday party episode) godfather to their children. When Lizzie and her husband decided to move to Sacramento, Cunanan moved back in with his mother, got the drug store job, and re-enrolled at UCSD for a year before dropping out.

So far, it seems like the series is reasonably faithful to the events reported by Orth in the book, although (understandably) the timeline is compressed and things are simplified or occasionally made more dramatic. However, almost everything about Jeff Trail’s time in the Navy in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” episode must have either come from some other source or was invented for the series. Trail was anonymously interviewed on 48 Hours, but there’s nothing in the book about Trail intervening in a gay-bashing or attempting suicide. His career in the Navy seems to have stalled for reasons unrelated to suspicions about his sexual orientation.

The finale didn’t change my mind. I realized while I watched it that one of the huge differences between it and OJ is dialog. We saw so many scenes of people talking to each other. Conversations. Court speeches. Whispered secrets. Cunanan just strutted about, half naked too often, staring moodily at pretty scenery or himself.

I think we were supposed to feel bad for him that his father betrayed him again, that he was troubled and sad, that the friend’s message should have been poignant, but he was just constantly so awful and gross that I did not care. At all. Even horrific murderers usually get some sympathy from me for basic humanity, if for nothing else the waste of his life, his victims’.

The OJ story worked because it wasn’t OJ’s story. We had Marcia and Chris and Ito and the defense. This was almost entirely the boring Andrew. Why even introduce all the police if we barely see them? Why do we really only see Judith Light as a victim’s family member? Why couldn’t we see more fictionalized imaginings of what Cunanan’s friends were feeling? How they found out?

The show was just like him: all about him, no one else mattered.

Having just read Orth’s book, I’d say this is probably the biggest liberty the series took with its depiction of Cunanan. The real Cunanan liked to eat, didn’t like to work out, and struggled to keep his weight down – particularly after his breakup with his sugar daddy. He felt bad about his body, and while he often went to a nude beach with friends he always kept his clothes on. This is actually significant to understanding Cunanan, because it helps to explain why he lied so much. Friends told Orth that to get the kind of attention Cunanan wanted he’d have to be either really hot or rich, and he knew he wasn’t that hot. He wasn’t rich either, but he could fake that.

I disagree with you in that I think the series did a good job of showing that Cunanan’s victims were people with full lives that were tragically cut short. Even in the (too) brief time that William Reese is onscreen we learn that he has a beloved wife and son. For all the other victims, we’re also shown that they’re harder-working and more accomplished than Cunanan and that all of them, even elderly Lee Miglin, had things in life they still wanted to do.

That said, I agree that the series devoted too much time to the least interesting person in this story. I went into the series knowing almost nothing about Cunanan, but it didn’t take long for it to become obvious that the question “Why did he become a killer?” has a straightforward answer. Cunanan had one or more Cluster B personality disorders and was also a long-term meth user. Since he left no explanation of his motives the details will always be something of a mystery, but I think it’s a waste of time to look for any deep meaning there. Cunanan wasn’t a deep person. That was his problem.

I found Orth’s book to be a lot more interesting than the series, largely because it does have more about the complicated and frustrating investigations of the murders and the manhunt for Cunanan. I think the series would have been improved by focusing more on that, as it seemed like it was going to in the first few episodes. Making the series mostly from Cunanan’s perspective and depicting events in reverse chronological order robbed the story of most of its mystery and suspense. Or if they wanted to keep the focus on Cunanan and his victims rather than the criminal investigation, this series really could have been an episode or two shorter.

I am curious as to whether the series would be improved by watching the middle episodes (everything but the premier and finale) in chronological rather than broadcast order. However, I found the content disturbing enough that I doubt I’ll ever watch it again in any order.

I finally watched the finale last night. It was nice to finally get back to the “present day”, but quite frankly the season was terrible. It started off strong, but the backwards chronology was a huge mistake.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the series was even written with a backwards chronology in mind or if that was a decision made late in the game. Opening with the Versace murder makes sense to me, but after that there didn’t seem to be any good reason to tell this story out of chronological order. Two of the better episodes (the premier and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) strayed from the backwards structure and included flashbacks giving us background for what was going on in the “present”.

As I mentioned upthread, the “Ascent” episode showed us a lot of stuff we’d already been told about (e.g. Cunanan and Madson’s first meeting), but it might have seemed more interesting had it come earlier in the series. The eyeroll-inducing appearance of Lee Miglin at Cunanan’s birthday party in “Descent” also probably would have worked better had it been foreshadowing Miglin’s murder.