Ryan Murphy is a master craftsman of anthology series, and his latest venture, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story appears to be following a great trend. The opening montage of the show was screened for critics at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, and besides being visually stunning, it's also intensely emotional.
"We're telling the story backwards," creator and executive producer Ryan Murphy reveals. "The first episode obviously deals with the literal murder or assassination itself, and then we tell the story in reverse. So we really get into how [Andrew Cunanan] (Darren Criss) had that motive and why he wanted to do what he wanted to do."
As you might have guessed, the opening montage pieces together the last morning of Gianni Versace's (Edgar Ramirez) life, from the moment he wakes up to the moment he's shot in cold blood on his own front steps. Just as heavily featured is Darren Criss' Andrew Cunanan in the hours leading up to the moment he pulls the trigger.
While the series will no doubt focus heavily on Versace and his life, Cunanan's homophobic motives and the killing spree that followed will also be a key component of the story.
"Versace had given an interview with his lover and had chosen to live openly as a gay man and that was part of the reason why he was targeted and killed," executive producer Brad Simpson says. "Andrew Cunanan was a serial killer, who killed other gay men."
Before you jump to conclusions about Cunanan's depiction, however, we should mention Criss revealed that a large part of this character is seeing the good and the bad, since hating him through the entire series would not be a very interesting hook. We'll see him at his best and at his worst, which always creates a more compelling villain.
The why of the murder is intriguing enough (and if Criss' performance in the first few minutes is any indication, intriguing might be an understatement), but perhaps more intriguing is the message about American homophobia in the '90s that will into the depiction of this murder.
"More than why he was killed was why it was allowed to happen," Ryan Murphy says. "The idea was Versace, who was the last victim, really did not have to die... One of the reasons Andrew Cunanan was able to make his way across the country and pick off these victims, many of whom were gay, was because of homophobia at the time. Homophobia particularly in the various police organizations that refused — in Miami — to put up wanted posters even though they knew that Andrew Cunanan had probably committed many of these murders and was probably headed that way, all of which we deal with in the show."
In the same avenue that The People v. O.J. Simpson dealt with racial issues in Los Angeles at the time, it appears The Assassination of Gianni Versace will hone in on LGBT issues of the '90s, providing more than a few ripe opportunities for story.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is set to premiere January 2018 on FX.