Did anyone really expect accuracy from the drama series?
The Assassination Of Gianni Versace opens with dramatic orchestral music playing in the background as we follow Gianni Versace and his assassin Andrew Cunanan separately, leading to the moment of the murder. The 8-minute agonizing opening alone cut short by a title card would set the tone for a drama—it’s not an accurate piece. But we remain on our seats as the narration continues because it’s not the accuracy that led us there but the fact that we’re about to witness the drama that surrounded the controversial death of fashion designer and legend Gianni Versace.
The Family And The Network
This tragic truth is what disappointed the Versace family and why they refused to be involved in the making of the series. It can be remembered that the family has released a statement saying that they had “neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace, which should only be considered as a work of fiction.” They even went on to call the series “sad and reprehensible” as the producers only based on the contents of Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors.
FX, the television channel where The Assassination Of Gianni Versace was aired, stated that they “stand by the meticulous reporting of Ms. Orth”. But the further the real-life turmoil around the series grows, the more publicity it gets. Consider all these reports a free press release for the TV show (which now can be seen on the online streaming platform, Netflix). This is what makes us even more interested in the events we’re about to witness in the series. From Donatella dressing up a dead Gianni on the casket herself to Cunanan’s vicious visions of satisfaction to have killed Versace himself, the creators of this series know exactly how to trade accuracy for viewership without looking a little too overripe.
Each episode ends with the following words: “The series is inspired by true events and investigative reports. Some events are combined or imagined for dramatic and interpretative purposes. Dialogue is imagined to be consistent with these events.” The keywords—inspired and imagined—ground the series to its genre but of course, some accuracies can still be found in the series: the undistributed wanted posters, the dove that got killed with Gianni, and the polaroid picture of his body being carried into an ambulance. These small details make us think that as long they are present, we’re still on the right track.
The series has, of course, focused more than just on the designer’s death but the stories that led them to it. Here’s where we find the reason for the disclaimer—the imaginative accounts. We want to know Andrew Cunanan’s motive for killing five people and as the show reflects him to be, he does it for the recognition of having killed all those people. He wants to be known as the person who killed Gianni Versace. “I don’t see something nice. I see the man behind it—a great creator; a man I could have been,” Darren Criss’s Andrew Cunanan tells. We witness how terrifying the monster behind the charming facade of what Andy (as he’s casually introduced himself in the series) is.
If you’ve seen (and finished) The Assassination Of Gianni Versace, you can’t be the only victim of its narrative. It is gripping and every viewer would have a different motivation to continue watching. In reality, the assassination has no conclusion with Andrew Cunanan’s suicide but the series give us the answer we all long for and in the future, this is where we will settle. That could be the most terrifying outcome of this sensation—the truth being buried for the convenience a fictional work offers. Yet again, there are three sides to every story. In the case of this series, there’s the book where it’s based from, the view of the Versace family, and the actual truth. At the end of the day, as tragic as it sounds, everyone’s only interested in the fruit of all these combined.