Ryan Murphy’s newest installment of his anthology series American Crime Story proves that dead is the new sexy, and in the world of high-end fashion, murder is in season. Even after just one episode, it’s obvious that this series will be total 180 from the dingy, starkly-light law offices in the first installment, The People Vs OJ Simpson. This story takes places in the beautiful, luxurious Miami, where the sun and bright colors inspired the famed fashion designer. It’s a highly stylized show in the way that People Vs OJ just couldn’t be. The OJ Simpson case was a mystery that rocked the country and blew to scales way outside those actually involved, while the assassination of Gianni Versace was very much a crime of passion.
And of course by passion I mean one of love and lust. The murderer, revealed within the first 5 minutes to be the charming Andrew Cunanan (played by Darren Criss), was a man with a very devious plan to get to the top by any means necessary. Cunanan is the definition of a hot mess — he’s suave and uses seduction to get what wants, and what he wants is to be impressive and important. But under his smooth exterior is a disaster of a human being, evident in the first episode when Cunanan is immediately shown to be a pathological liar. He approaches Versace in a club in 1990, refusing to leave until Versace shows him proper attention. He wessels his way into Versace’s good graces and they get rather close while at an opera show Versace designed the costumes for (Cunanan tells his friends that Versace invited him there personally, which wasn’t the case at all).
The episode alternates between their meeting in 1990 and the murder in front of Versace’s mansion in 1997. In the 1997 clips, it is revealed that Versace is Cunanan’s 5th victim. I think it’s really interesting that the show is quick to set up Cunanan’s psychosis, and the real intrigue comes from watching Cunanan descent into the person he is at the time of the murder.
No doubt about it, the best part of this show (besides the cinematography) is Darren Criss. This is the role of a lifetime for Criss, and in just one episode he already has me begging to see more of this guy, crazy as he may be. Criss will be matched by Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace. She makes a brief appearance in episode 1, and I’m really intrigued how her character will play a role in the story.
And of course, things are about to get really complicated as a love triangle becomes a love pyramid, and then a love cube, and then a love web. Versace was known for his string of lovers, and something tells me that’s what this murder is all about.
Final Rating: 7/10