SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details about tonight’s season finale of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, “Alone” on FX.
Tonight we returned to the July 15, 1997 crime scene where serial killer Andrew Cunanan guns down famed Italian designer Gianni Versace on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion, and a manhunt pursues. Having once been tested with an I.Q of 147, Cunanan was brilliant and he was able to dodge the Feds and change his appearance not just for another eight days in Miami Beach after his notorious crime, but for roughly three months prior after taking the lives of naval officer Jeffrey Trail, lover David Madson, Chicago real estate developer Lee Miglin, and caretaker William Reese.
Cunanan ducks and covers in a house boat, where he watches the media coverage of his slaughter, that is until the police descend upon him, and we see that he commits suicide with the same gun he used to kill Madson, Reese and Versace.
Some have criticized this second season of American Crime Story for not having the resonance of 2016’s The People v. O.J. Simpson. In an era where social media over hypes headlines, that tabloid trial continued to ring true 20-plus years later, not only in the way it was originally covered by the media, but it also touched upon the reality that times haven’t changed. As series EP/writer Scott Alexander assessed during a panel for the show, bad relationships between police departments and blacks continues to exist, ditto for gender inequality in the workplace as we saw portrayed in Sarah Paulson’s Emmy-winning performance of prosecutor Marcia Clark.
If there was a gripe by critics over the Assassination of Gianni Versace, it was a superficial one, as the miniseries across nine episodes didn’t dote on the ins and outs of the intriguing fashion designer’s life, rather the deplorable murderer Cunanan. However, much like O.J. Simpson focused on how a fractured America has remained exactly that, Gianni Versace zeroed on the complexities that the gay community weathered in the late ’90s, and how homophobia continues to pervade society.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the piercing speech delivered by Ronnie (Max Greenfield turning in an Emmy worthy performance) to the Feds after they bring him in for questioning over Cunanan’s whereabouts. Wiry and HIV-positive, Ronnie berates them for their insensitivity and idiocy in not catching Cunanan sooner while he was in plain sight in Miami (As EP Tom Rob Smith said at TCA, the Cunanan murder case “was the largest FBI fail of all-time.”)
Ronnie blasts, “The other cops here, they weren’t searching so hard were they, why is that? Because he killed a bunch of nobody gays?…You know what the truth is, you were disgusted by him, long before he became disgusting. You’re so used to us lurking in the shadows. Ya know, most of us, we’re obliged! People like me, we just drift away, we get sick, nobody cares, but Andrew was vain. He wanted you to know about his pain, he wanted you to hear, he wanted you …he wanted you to know about being born a lie. Andrew is not hiding. He’s trying to be seen.”
EP Ryan Murphy at TCA said that Versace’s murder was a “political” one and that Cunanan was “a person who specifically went out of his way to shame and out people…He was having a form of payback for a life he could not live.” At one point Murphy and the American Crime EPs considering putting Cunanan’s name in the title, but they decided they didn’t want to glamorize him.
At a post season finale screening Q&A Monday night at the DGA Theatre in Hollywood, EPs and cast members discussed the personal impact for them working on the show, and how the gay community has been effected in the years since Versace’s murder.
Judith Light, who plays Marilyn Miglin, the wife of Cunanan victim Lee Miglin, said that Gianni Versace, “is a cultural and historical event, and that’s what I think is so powerful about it. And when we talk about the time it happened and the love that people had for each other, particularly Antonio and Gianni, and that relationship is iconic in the sense that we’re still living in a time of homophobia. And what this does, it talks about that and brings it present and reminds us where we were in the ‘90s and talks about that we’re still not finished with it today.”
“Had Andrew had a life where he could have been open and lived his life in a way that was supportive to him, these things may not have happened,” added Light.
“We live in divided times about how separate we all are, but it (American Crime Story) shows how interconnected we are” said Tom Rob Smith about how Cunanan’s atrocities didn’t just damage those in rich Italian circles, but extended to various society levels, rich and poor. Smith wrote tonight’s episode “Alone,” which was directed by Dan Minahan.
One of the more intriguing turn of events following Versace’s murder which tonight’s season 2 finale briefly covers is how the fashion designer’s boyfriend Antonio D’Amico (Ricky Martin) was arguably casted out by the Versace family following the murder; blocked from taking ownership of the Lake Como property promised to him by Gianni no thanks to sister Donatella and the label’s board. The miniseries shows Antonio taking his life with a bottle of pills, when in fact that’s debated whether he actually went that far in his depression following Gianni’s murder. What is known is that Antonio is alive and well, with his own fashion label in Northern Italy, and a reported $30K a month payout for life in Versace’s will. Overall, Donatella and Antonio were never on good terms.
Having been a closeted gay during pinnacles of his pop music career, and finally coming out in 2010, playing Antonio was both a cathartic and painful experience for Ricky Martin.
“I feel so much sadness seeing this last episode, and also a lot of anger; this could happen over and over again,” said Martin about the struggles which gay men go through in a homophobic society. He is proud that Versace possessed a strong courage to be out. As Martin confessed on stage the other night he personally “made a lot of my partners hide” and endured “a lot of self hate.”
But despite reliving the pain, there was a positive, resilient takeaway from The Assassination of Gianni Versace for Martin.
Says the Grammy winner, “I just want to be louder, louder and louder”
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