Let’s be real: There’s so many shows out there now – between Hulu and Netflix and Amazon and our dear old Cable – that there’s simply not enough time to watch it all. And even if you do start a new series, who’s to say what’s worth watching?
Well fret no more! Our column “Why Aren’t You Watching” has got you covered, with almost weekly suggestions on some great shows all within binging distance!
Last year, “American Crime Story” came into existence with a thrilling and eye opening rendition of the O.J. Simpson trial, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, and Sterling K. Brown. With such strong leads, it was hard to imagine how each star could blend in so well with their character to make the story its own, and it was hard to imagine that it would be able to distinguish itself from other series that centered on the same topic. But these concerns all washed away within the first episode, with well-defined characters and a sense of realism and suspense.
This year, “American Crime Story” redefined itself once more. The assassination of Gianni Versace, while sparking the interest of the media and the general population, may not have been as well-known to future generations – in fact, when talking about this latest installment to a peer who had not yet watched, I was asked the question: “When did this happen?” and they were surprised to find out it wasn’t too long ago. 1997.
Almost two years after the O.J. Simpson trial.
But, this may be what is most intriguing about the second season after all: when watching the O.J. trial, the audience all knew the ending, knew the mistakes made on both sides, and was anticipating with each episode those outcomes. It is not so with “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”
With the title event known to the viewer, Versace’s death was not a shock in itself, but rather this season focuses on the killer himself, Andrew Cunanan. Much unlike its predecessor, this is not a courtroom drama and it is not about finding justice in a crime. Instead it explores the events leading up to and driving the murder. Darren Chriss, a former “Glee” alum, gets inside the mind of Cunanan as the show retraces the killer’s steps, motivations, and life before the awful event.
This installment also plays with time in a really interesting – and at times, I’ll admit, disorienting – ways, though since each “time stamp” finds Cunanan in a different city with different people, as long as you’re on your toes it’ll all make sense as the scenes go on. Also, by changing the linear order of these scenes and meetings, the viewer is able to better understand the mindset of Cunanan: a drastic event or change will happen, the viewer is shocked and upset, wondering what could possible compel someone to do these acts, and then the show will jump back in time and explain just how Cunanan got himself into that situation.
It’s almost like you as the audience are the detective, putting the puzzle pieces together backwards to make some kind of sense of Versace’s death.
A challenging, engaging work of cinema, “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is well worth the time to binge, and is recommended to be watched in blocks so as to not miss key events or the juxtaposition of scenes. Spanning the country as well as the decades, this series draws you in and keeps the viewer guessing throughout, so it’s no wonder that it’s already won a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award, American Film Institute Award, as well as seven Primetime – and Primetime Creative – Emmy Awards.
“American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” originally aired on FX, and is now streaming on Netflix.