Extravagant with Greek tragedy operatic grandeur in score/scale, powerful Emmy-caliber Criss-led performances, depth LGBTQ+ fashion & materialism themes, bold cinematography, cutting-edge plot structure, and multi-layered symbolism. 9.7/10.
Plot Synopsis: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is the second season of the FX true crime anthology television series American Crime Story. The season premiered on January 17, 2018, and concluded on March 21, 2018.
CLC’s Best #TASOGV Episodes: 1. The Man Who Would Be Vogue, 2. Creator/Destroyer, 3. Alone, 4. A Random Killing, 5. A House By The Lake, 6. Manhunt, 7. Descent, 8. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, 9. Ascent
*Possible spoilers ahead*
The Murder Of A Fashion Icon: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace
Versace. From its Medusa-themed fashionista opening in 1978 as a small family operation to the luxurious mega-franchise it is today, the powerhouse brand’s meteoric rise and man behind the masthead bearing his name has been shrouded in mystery. Taken out by spree killer Andrew Cunanan – an FBI’s Most Wanted featuree with delusions of grandeur and little else known about him, it was about time some light and dramatic reenactment was shed on this icon of clothing’s shocking murder, none better to head up the process than TV maven Ryan Murphy and his lustrous crime anthology American Crime Story. What they’ve delivered might not just be the best TV series this year – it might be one of the greatest TV series I’ve *ever* seen. Extravagant in operatic, Greek-tragedy like scoring and scale, powerful in top-notch Emmy-caliber performances spearheaded by Darren Criss, stunning in cinematography, & intriguing in plot structure + multi-layered symbolism, TASOGV is a tier above most other offerings on streaming this decade.
Darren Criss: The Performance Of A Lifetime
Stylistic flair that would make Versace himself proud. From its stunning cover art and poster artfully visualizing the company’s Medusa’s head symbol on an Italian marble statuette, I knew this series was going to be something special for the eyes. However, I was not prepared for how absolutely JAW-DROPPING it is cinematographically. Every single shot is set-up with immaculate craftsmanship and designer-worthy compositional detail, visually-eye-popping color hues, geometric precision and camerawork flamboyancy with multi-layered symbolism. From the famous Versace mansion pool in palm tree-lined Miami South Beach to the shooting of the dove to that stunning final Medusa mirror graphic match to the grieving widow/sister, this series wears its artistic heart on its sleeve epitomizing the old adage “A picture(/screenshot) is worth a thousand words.” The score is All-Time memorable and pure emotion-inducing as well, adding an auditory component to the visual grandeur with a (literal) operatic overture/soundtrack further establishing its Greek/Italian tragedy-like feel like you’re watching a larger-than-life classical drama on stage back in ancient Rome – brought to life by such sensory beauty, it does the fashion icon proud stylistically.
Stylistic Flair Enough To Make Versace Proud
Beyond the visuals & score, the series succeeds on narrative, existentialism, and performances too. Darren Criss’ performance as the sadistic, psychologically-complex, multi-layered smooth-talking grandeur-delusional devil Andrew Cunanan is easily one of the TV performances of the decade (easy to see why he won the best actor Emmy for it). He absolutely steals the show every frame, impressive considering one might have thought it was going to be more about Gianni’s life and upbringings (which it does artfully portray with a strong and perfect-resemblance actor in Edgár Ramirez, strong supporting performances by his family & Cruz’s Donatella, and important representation of the struggles he endured coming from a small dress-making shop in Calabria, Italy a (gay) boy interested in women’s clothes/design) but decides to focus more on who Cunanan was to subvertively-brilliant results. This fascinating, vain, erudite, have-not, invisible-feeling, exceptional villain is a trip for the ages, with tons to say about modern society especially indicative of the social media age.
A Twisty Plot Structure That Aids The Existentially-Complex Themes: Homosexuality, Haves-Vs-Have-Nots, The Drug Of Fame
The plot structure & themes serve this purpose, starting with the jaw droppingly-rendered Versace murder without any context or explanation beyond pure old-school operatic emotion-induced, before piece-by-piece & slow-burningly going layer by layer into the story of why it happened and who everyone involved was – from David to the Miglins to Donatella to Andrew’s downright evil father Modesto (arguably even a more screen-stealing, intriguing presence than Andrew possibly shouldering some of the blame from Andrew with a side arc of how much (bad) fathers can pass on to vulnerable sons – in this case inflated ego, expensive taste, God-complex, etc.) before tying up its many threads and storylines perfectly with a bow in the end. The series also gives light and exploration to timely, vitally-important topics like the drug of fame, feeling invisible, television of violent acts, materialism/instant gratification of modern society, image-obsessions, grandeur delusions, mental health, morality, capitalism, juxtaposition of haves and have-nots, and homosexuality: how it can silence, demonize, force lies, isolate, and played a *huge* role in the remarkable length, brutality, and casualty-heavy tragedy of this case as one of the most important representations of LGBTQ ever filmed. Bravo, Murphy.
The only minor flaws to be found in this otherwise-brilliant canvas are the (occasionally-disorientating/convoluted) nature of the plot structure it can get admittedly daunting and rewind-forcing trying to piece together. Wildly-juxtaposed vignettes from different stories, people, and even time periods assault our senses making it objectively a task to frame it all into a coherent whole on a single take. This, plus a slightly-overdone Italian accent by Penelope Cruz’s Donatella, are about the only nits to pick in this fashion story about everything but fashion.
One Of The Greatest TV Series I’ve Ever Seen & Easily The Best Of 2018
A Greek Tragedy For The Modern Age Steeped In Pathos, Social Commentary, Emmy-Performances, & Multi-Layered Symbolism
Overall, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is a masterpiece of TV. Extravagant in operatic, Greek-tragedy like scoring and scale, powerful in top-notch Emmy-caliber performances spearheaded by Darren Criss, stunning in cinematography, & intriguing in plot structure + multi-layered symbolism, TAOGV is one of the best television series I’ve ever seen in my life and even better than its sensational predecessor The People v. O.J. Simpson. Bravo, Ryan Murphy.
Official CLC Score: 9.7/10