The second season of FX’s anthology series American Crime Story premieres tonight, Ryan Murphy‘s highly polarizing tale of the Assassination of Gianni Versace. The fashion icon was gunned down on the steps outside his “Casa Casuarina” Miami villa on July 15th, 1997. This season of ACS seeks to dramatically reenact what may have happened, based on the Maureen Orth book, “Vulgar Favors”.
You may recall the recent stories that Donatella Versace, Gianni’s sister who became head of design for the fashion house after her brother’s death, publically slammed AHS as a “work of fiction”. FX has since responded, stating that they “stand by the meticulous reporting of Ms. Orth”. Murphy also commented on the situation, mentioning the FX statement as well as following that up with, “I feel if your family is ever portrayed in something, it’s natural to sort of have a ‘Well, let’s wait and see what happens’ [stance].”
Anyhow, the premiere of the season throws the viewer in the deep end right away — showing the murder of Gianni (played by Edgar Ramirez) before the end of the episode. We’re introduced to Andrew Cunanan (played by Glee breakout star Darren Criss), the FBI Most Wanted serial murderer who killed five people, including Versace.
While I’m personally still unsure if Criss’s delivery of the sociopath is as good as I think it is, it’s worth noting that without the right villain, any story of this nature falls apart pretty quickly. Several reviewers have said he’s the best part of the season, and I’m not sure I agree with that entirely, even though yes, he is a very strong part of it.
Ramirez is good — very good — in the role of Gianni. You have to feel some measure of fondness for Versace in this tale — his vision of fashion and loyal love to his family are his motivations throughout, as well as his drive to actualize his artistic visions.
Ricky Martin plays Antonio D’Amico, Gianni’s longtime partner, who finds Gianni after the murder. Penelope Cruz plays Donatella, who we are introduced to in the premiere, when she comes to Miami to take control of her brother’s assets and help steer the fashion brand in the time of crisis.
Entertainment Weekly did this fabulous side-by-side gallery of the real-life personalities portrayed in this season — you can check it out here.
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace airs on FX on Wednesday nights.