American Crime Story is always about a real crime that made headlines, but it is also about broader social issues. In the first season, the show covered the OJ Simpson trial, but also American race relations. Season two, The Assassination of Gianni Versace tells the story of the 1997 murder of Versace and is based on the book Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth. In the second season Ryan Murphy delves into the homophobia of the 1990s and how it interfered with law enforcement solving the crime.
We are only on episode three, which I have paused because I need a break. I’m beginning to wonder if despite all of the incredible acting if the whole thing isn’t a bit much for me. Darren Criss is spectacular as the serial killer Andrew Cunanan. He’s a bit too good in fact. I may have nightmares watching this so late at night. Note to self, wait to watch future episodes in the hard light of day. Judith Light is amazing on this episode. Ricky Martin, Penelope Cruz, and Edgar Ramirez are all giving Emmy winning performances this season in my book.
I didn’t pay much attention to the details of this crime when it happened. I think I was in graduate school and that took up most of my time. I didn’t recall that Versace’s killer was a serial killer, or that the other victims were all high achieving gay men. In episode three it is becoming clear that Andrew is a narcissist and a psychopath who can’t seem to live with the fact that he is a nobody and goes to great lengths to get into the high society crowd by any means necessary.
Sadly, the ratings were poor for the first two episodes. Only 2.22 million viewers watched the first episode and 1.42 million watched the second. RHOA ratings prior to Michael Beck tanking the series averaged twice these numbers during their peak in season seven.
Maybe it is because we can’t quite stomach reliving the HIV/AIDS fears of the 1980s and 1990s or maybe the murders of very successful closeted (and not so closeted) gay men who were highly successful in their creative fields is just so very graphic and gruesome, but for whatever reason the series is not drawing the viewership it deserves. Despite the fact I’d prefer the focus to be more on the law and order end and less on the gruesomeness of the murders, not watching means missing some really outstanding performances. Ryan Murphy sure does know how to pull the best out of his actors.
I know some of you are watching and wanted a discussion forum. Sorry it has taken so long. Let’s chat.