March 3, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is a Baroque Morality Tale

Those tuning into Ryan Murphy’s latest prestige series looking for camp and circumstance may find themselves, at first, disappointed. From the dream-like beginnings of the show’s first episode – which opens on Gianni Versace sprawled in a gilt-colored bed staring at a ceiling that could rival the Sistine Chapel for detail – we get a sense that season two will be a lot closer to the ideal Murphy aesthetic than the first, which presented the O.J. Simpson case in the cold, stark light of realism. However, as we’re led into the nightmarish unfolding of events of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” it becomes clear that we’re not here to lounge around in Versace splendor for an entire season. We’re here to see the Versace splendor splattered with blood.

Fashion icon Gianni Versace’s murder in 1997 was sudden, random, and grim. His killer, Andrew Cunanan, shot him outside of his palatial Miami Beach home, claiming the fashion icon as his fifth victim. While the relationship between the two men – the transparently gay Versace and the much younger, closeted Cunanan – remains a point of speculation, Murphy has chosen to believe that a relationship between the two, however scant, did exist in order to tell the story the way he wants to tell it. And the way he wants to tell it is, in typical Murphy fashion, a little bit overblown, bloody, fantastical, and oddly moralistic.

From the opening scene alone, where we follow Versace as he winds through his gigantic estate, built to resemble an Italian villa, in between shots of a desperate Cunanan trekking around Miami Beach with a dirty backpack, throwing up violently in public toilets, Murphy is clearly trying to say something about the relationship between the two. Whether it’s the more obvious comment about American excess – the land where the haves have everything and the have-nots have absolutely nothing – or whether he’s building up to something a bit more subtle is unclear thus far. What is clear is that subtlety is not and has never been one of Murphy’s strong suits, which is why his work is so hilariously great. Exhibit A: Penelope Cruz’s lisping performance as Donatella Versace, who from the moment she leaves the tarmac of her private jet is all business when it comes to her brother’s death. And of course, the much-anticipated performance of Ricky Martin as Versace’s long term partner, a man who was robbed of his rightful inheritance by the Versace estate. At the center of everything is the very unsubtle, and very seductive, interpretation of the killer Cunanan by Darren Criss, in whose hands the character is shown as ambitious, lost, vulnerable, psychotic, and romantic all in one take.

As with “American Crime Story” Season 1, “Versace” is playing the long game. Murphy uses the serialized format of television to ramp up the drama of a story that most of the world already knows. In Season 1, however, the O.J. Simpson trials were tied to something more personal for most viewers. It will be interesting to see whether or not “Versace,” with its unsympathetic characters and seemingly straightforward plot, will be able to achieve this same kind of nuance in the re-telling.

Related Posts

Anti-LGBTQ Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Controversial talk show host Rush Limbaugh died on Feb. 17th from complications of lung cancer at his home in Palm...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...

Award Decorated Actress, Cloris Leachman, Dead At 94

January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

Cloris Leachman, Oscar and Emmy winning actress, has died at the age of 94 from natural causes at her home...

Iconic Talk Show Host Larry King, An LGBTQ Ally, Dies At 87

January 23, 2021

January 23, 2021

Larry King, the iconic talk show host and LGBTQ ally died on Saturday Jan. 23rd.  A statement was posted on...

Betty White Will Celebrate 99th Birthday In Quarantine

January 14, 2021

January 14, 2021

Gay Icon and legendary actress Betty White turns 99 on Jan. 17th and has some wild plans to mark the...

L.A. Makeup Artist Is First Trans Man To Compete On “RuPauls Drag Race”

December 13, 2020

December 13, 2020

The cast of RuPauls Drag Race Season 13 has been announced this week revealing its first trans man contestant will...

Real Housewives Star Comes Out As A Lesbian

December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020

Braunwyn Windham-Burke star of Real Housewives of Orange County has come out as a lesbian.  In an interview with GLAAD...

East Hollywood Man Appearing on Wheel Of Fortune

October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Tim Quinn, an East Hollywood resident, will be a contestant on the hit TV show Wheel of Fortune on Wednesday,...

Anne Heche Eliminated From DWTS

October 11, 2020

October 11, 2020

After four weeks on season 29 of the ABC reality dance competition Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) Anne Heche has...

An Apologetic Ellen DeGeneres Returns To Daytime TV

September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Using technology to it’s advantage for its 18th season The Ellen DeGeneres Show returned to a virtual studio audience on...

Local L.A. Woman Appearing On Wheel Of Fortune

September 23, 2020

September 23, 2020

Local Los Angeles woman, Julie Reyes, will be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, the longest-running syndicated game show in...

Love In Action Telethon

September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020

Love In Action, a telethon to support the LGBTQ+ community during the COVID pandemic will be airing live on Sept.12th...

AIDS Walk Los Angeles 2020

August 27, 2020

August 27, 2020

AIDS Walk Los Angeles (AWLA) is the world’s first walk to fight HIV and AIDS. 35 years ago, a group...

Award-Winning Gay Producer Ash Christian Dead at 35

August 23, 2020

August 23, 2020

Lauded producer, actor, director, and writer Ash Christian died in his sleep while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Thursday...

Sasha Velour Hosts “NightGowns Forever” Event Virtually

August 16, 2020

August 16, 2020

On Sunday August 9 global drag superstar and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour hosted her first virtual drag event...