Ryan Murphy’s new show The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story debuts in the US tonight.
However, critics have had a sneak peek at the sequel to last year’s Golden Globe-winning The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
So far, reactions have mostly been positive, but with most noting a decline in quality from last year’s show.
‘This TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction’
One negative reception has come from the Versace family themselves. They have said in a statement ‘this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction.’
The People v. O. J. Simpson won Best Miniseries of TV Film at last year’s Golden Globes. Meanwhile, Sarah Paulson won Best Actress In a Miniseries of Film.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace stars Édgar Ramírez as the titular fashion icon. Versace was shot dead in his Miami mansion in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan: his murder is the focus of the pilot.
Glee star Darren Criss plays Cunanan in the American Horror Story spin-off.
Meanwhile, Oscar-nominated actress Penelope Cruz plays Gianni’s sister Donatella. Puerto Rican pop icon Ricky Martin furthermore plays Versace’s lover, Antonio D’Amico.
5 critics react
‘Mr. Criss is impressive and haunting as the mediocre con man and murderer, but “Assassination” is never quite sure what to make of its central figure, his narcissism or, perhaps, his sociopathy’ – Margaret Lyons
‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace is not the detailing of a murder spree as much as it is a taxonomy of gay tragedy. It illustrates the maiming effect of the closet and the ways a society’s codified reverence for money and clout can badly entangle with private yearnings forced into the margins, into the dark. I’m not quite sure I buy all of its despairing theses, but The Assassination of Gianni Versace still grips like a vise—and a vice—as it descends into hell’ – Richard Lawson
‘Penélope Cruz is stone-cold perfect as Versace’s muse and sister, the hardened Donatella, and Darren Criss is chillingly convincing as the psychopathic Cunanan. […] The downside here is that this series, based on actual events and inspired by Maureen Orth’s book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History,” is sometimes too dark and brutal in its re-creation of the murders’ – Lorraine Ali
‘Versace’s name may be in the title, but Miglin, Trail and Madson get almost as much backstory, not to mention Cunanan, the only character who appears in every episode. Which is to say that, in the world of the show, queer lives mean very little to law enforcement; in the world of Ryan Murphy, though, they’re each deserving of attention, regardless of wealth or fame’ – Jake Nevins
‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace isn’t for everyone, […] but it’s sincere and committed as it follows its own path. When you get to the end, the reversed storytelling could seem sad, because you’re thinking about the inevitable tragedies to come, or restorative, because the dead have been systematically resurrected and have at least a bit more living to do’ – Matt Zoller Seitz