Like The People vs. OJ Simpson — and as much as you can tell from a brief trailer — this feels like it was done with thought and consideration for the real human beings involved; Penelope Cruz in particular looks amazing as Donatella Versace, who must be personally pleased that for once she’s not being played for laughs. Like Marcia Clark before her, I wonder if this program will humanize a woman that we’ve all grown used to mocking. (Donatella has, as I understand it, been a good sport about Maya Rudolph’s imitation of her, but who amongst us wouldn’t be secretly pleased to be played by Penelope Cruz?) Darren Criss also looks quite good as Andrew Cunanan, and I feel a weird frisson of pride for him, as I personally discovered him instead of just having spent a lot of time watching him on Glee. Like, this is a big role, and GOOD FOR YOU, DARREN CRISS.
Other items of note:
1. I think it’s probably a blessing the Ryan Murphy and Co. decided to re-work the Hurricane Katrina story they were originally going to do for season two of this show, as this feels like a much more natural follow up to The People vs OJ Simpson and also I was VERY WORRIED about how that was going to unfurl, given that it was apparently going to be wholly fictional and also everything I read about it was not convincing me that it was going to be any good.
2. This is very interesting, from GQ’s coverage of the show, about Versace’s actual murder (which I remember because I was alive and an adult at the time, and it was very shocking, but which I didn’t follow as closely as I did the OJ trial): “Cunanan killed four men before gunning down Versace on the steps of his mansion, Casa Casuarina, and the motives behind the killing were never determined (spoiler alert: Cunanan killed himself days after the murder). Similar to the way The People v. O. J. Simpson addressed the role race played in that case, The Assassination of Gianni Versace will reportedly deal with homophobia in the Miami police department that prevented the serial killer from being caught earlier.”
3. Versace’s murder and Princess Diana’s death happened the same summer — he was shot in mid-July of 1997, and her car crash was at the end of August — and they are in my mind very intertwined. I had graduated from UCLA in June of that same year, and that summer felt very unmoored and strange for me, and surely some of that is because I was in such a profound transition in my life. But I’ll be interested to see if this project captures Summer 1997 as well as I think it captured the mid-90s in Los Angeles in The People v. OJ Simpson.
What do you think?
If you missed our People Vs. OJ Simpson Recaps, AKA That Time I First Fell In Love With Sterling K. Brown you can catch up with them here.