No, you are not seeing a ghost. It is I, Spencer, and have come back to you now in your time of need. Hello everyone and welcome back to The Versace Verdict. Yes, you will notice I disappeared during the past few episodes and I do apologize. Unfortunately I was cast on the 11th Season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I was eliminated first after I did Cyndi Lauper impressions for the talent show… just in time for the finale of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story! Now that you have had some time to finish the show, I really just want to crack open this nut and discuss how I felt about it as a whole, including the latest finale episode. This show was fantastic and it really spoke to me in many different ways. There were so many subjects covered in such a small time span, I could really talk forever so let’s do it!
Let’s be real here, this was an amazing show. It gave me everything I wanted. The cast was incredible. I really see an Emmy coming for Darren Criss who played Andrew Cunanan. Darren’s portrayal of Andrew was so perfect, that it actually almost made me feel bad for Andrew at times. His acting felt very raw and real. Every emotion was executed in such a powerful way proven by Darren’s ability to make the audience feel scared, devastated, aroused, intimidated, and confused. Aside from Darren, the rest of the cast were really superstars in their own right as well. Penelope Cruz did Donatella Versace so much justice. Originally I was disappointed that Penelope was chosen as opposed to someone like the rumored Lady Gaga. However, after watching this show I realized Penelope was probably the only person on this planet right for this role and she did amazing! Edgar Ramirez really channeled Gianni Versace throughout this show. I mean there was really no difference between Edgar and the actual Gianni Versace. It could have actually been Gianni and perhaps Edgar was shot in Miami because they are basically the same person…Oh the editors are shaking their heads, okay next! Lastly I want to spotlight the remaining supporting cast members such as Ricky Martin who played Antonio D’Amico, Cody Fern as David Madson, Finn Wittrock as Jeff Trail, Joanna P. Adler as Mary Ann Cunanan, and finally the breathtaking Judith Light as Marilyn Miglin. These people really brought their all into the story and helped us discuss very difficult but important topics such as tolerance, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, domestic abuse, the AIDS epidemic, and prejudice.
Several people have come to me asking why the show is called what it is, but there being far less screen time for Gianni compared to Andrew. Well after the finale I can tell you why. As a whole, this story is about the murder of Gianni Versace. When you unpack this story you begin to realize that this was all about more than just the murder of a fashion icon. The only way to tell that story is to analyze life from behind the killers eyes. This also explains the order of the episodes. We opened with the terrifying murder of Gianni. From there it went back to the first initial meeting of Gianni and Andrew. Then we explored Andrews wake of destruction and who was affected. Finally we observed Andrews awful childhood which I think really pinpointed the exact madness that threw Andrew into the destructive spiral. Throughout all of this we also got glimpses into Gianni’s final days with insight on his childhood as well. All of this was necessary to fully explain the Assassination of Gianni Versace and the who, where, what, and why. Andrew didn’t kill Gianni because he got him sick, nor did he kill him for money. Andrew killed because he wanted to be seen. Andrews whole life he struggled for love and affection. He struggled to just be someone that is loved and important like Gianni Versace for example. Andrew was a compulsive liar who constantly created false identities, trying to be someone who he was not. All of this negative energy in his life pushed him over this dark edge in which his jealous emotions led him to start to hurt those he was closest to. This eventually led Andrew to Miami to kill Gianni, the man I believe he inspired to be. Another fascinating insight was seeing Andrew’s relationship play out with his father, Modesto Cunanan. Modesto literally gave Andrew everything he wanted. His father gave him money, the master bedroom, a sports car, and a life where he never really saw no as an answer. Once Modesto’s life came crumbling apart after his crimes, Andrew was hit with a hard reality which led him onto this journey where he was constantly try to reprise his role as a rich kid who was taken care of in every aspect of life. Honestly, this is a sick story but also very important because we all need to take a moment to put ourselves in Andrew’s shoes. Not to be sympathetic or adoring, but to try and understand people like Andrew so we can prevent future tragedies like the one we just studied for the past months.
On the Versace side of the story this was really a tale of tolerance, family values, AIDS stigma, and of course the fashion industry. Now we all know I am a huge Versace fan. Versace was the force that inspired me to go into the fashion industry in the beginning. So I always just kind of saw the Versace family as well.. perfect. However after watching this show I really got a chance to sit back and realize that with every family, there are differences, debates, and tragedies. The Versace family is not innocent of any of these qualities. Through this story, we were able to watch Donatella reluctantly come to terms with Gianni’s sexuallity and his reputation as an out-gay designer in the nineties. One of the most controversial topics about this story was the alleged cover-up surrounding Gianni’s status. Though it appears Gianni was suffering from HIV/AIDS, we really will never know the full story since the Versace’s basically did whatever they could to keep us from knowing every detail. In my opinion though, that really isn’t important. What is important is analyzing this situation so that we can help spread awareness and prevent anyone else from suffering. Practice safe sex, get tested, volunteer, donate to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, whatever you can do… do it! This show did not look at this situation just to get everyone guessing what Gianni was suffering from. It was purposed to help open our eyes to what was happening during this time period, and how this is still relevant today. I also loved the framework of Donatella’s rise to power story. Donatella really had to step up in order to continue the legacy of her brother. For me, it was really inspiring watching her struggle with just the simple sketch. Because if you watch the story progress, you see Gianni walk Donatella through the power of fashion which led her to where she is today. This company meant more to Gianni than just selling clothes. Fashion was Gianni’s art and he was able to use that art not only to express himself, but to help women understand their own power. If you look at Donatella today, I think she really grasped that message and still carries in her present collections.
Lastly, one of of my favorite parts about this show was the fashion history and costumes. This show payed very close attention to detail when it came to bringing back the Gianni Versace era of the company. Lou Eyrich blew me away with her costume design. I felt like every other scene that involved the Versaces (or Judith Light) had my jaw hitting the ground. For example, one of the final scenes when Donatella revealed the iconic Versace Bondage dress. That was a moment. Okay another example, when the show literally recreated Gianni’s final fashion show exactly as seen in archive videos of that night. This show was just a fashion dream and I really enjoyed it just for the fact that I got to just stare at these costumes. The costume design team will for sure be nominated for an Emmy this year, that is not even a question.
There really isn’t much that I did not like about this show and I know the world will agree with me. Perhaps there was an episode or two in the middle that felt a little slow. But how are you supposed to camp it up all of the time when this is all based off of a historical timeline? A very tragic timeline, I might add! I suppose one of my complaints would be that I felt like the timeline was a little too jumbled at times. There were moments where I was kind of confused on where we are at in the story. The show tried to give us dates but by the end of the season I felt like I needed a cork-board with arrows guiding me through the story. Though I said earlier that I understand why Gianni and Donatella didn’t get much screen time, doesn’t mean I didn’t want more. The show was kind of advertised as being mostly Gianni and Donatella but that was not at all the case. It’s not really a problem, but being the world’s biggest Donatella fan it was kind of a let down! Another question I have is why didn’t we really expand on the law enforcement side of the story? We introduced some interesting characters but didn’t really use them that much. Finally, I was a little let down by the finale. The finale was good, don’t get me wrong. I was just kind of hoping to see a little bit more of the world’s reaction to Andrew’s suicide and a “where are they now” type of moment like they did for the O.J Simpson series. The finale just felt literally five minutes too short of being completed.
This was an amazing show. I loved every single cast member. Each one of them were a perfect fit. The story was illustrated so well and really opened my mind beyond just the murder of this amazing designer. This story is truly one of America’s darkest and I am glad someone has finally brought a strong light to it. Because this story is often summarized as a “murderous gay man, killing other gay men”, it was pushed under the rug which is so wrong. Everyone can take something away from this story. The fashion was beautiful and I just want to put everything in this show in a museum. The cinematography was stunning. All in all, this show was just incredible in every department and I really hope everyone takes the time to watch it!
From the bottom of my heart, I would just like to thank all of you for watching this show with me. This show meant a lot to me in the sense that I really got to explore the minds of two people I have always looked up to (Donatella and Gianni). I believe there was something in this show for everyone and I really hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Fortunately, this will not be the end of this show as we are destined to take a Emmy or two later this year. Until then, I will see you all next time! Don’t forget to read my “A Haute Second with Spencer” column as well as my weekly The Walking Dead recaps. Oh but there is more, I am happy to announce that next month I will be starting a new series following the season 2 premiere of one of my favorite shows, Westworld! Yay! Love you all. Thank you for reading.