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Series / The Assassination of Gianni Versace

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The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the second season of the Ryan Murphy-produced true crime docudrama anthology series American Crime Story, aired by FX in 2018.

Adapted from the non-fiction book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U. S. History by Maureen Orth, it covers the titular murder —and ensuring fallout— of famous fashion designer Gianni Versace (Édgar Ramírez) by Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) in 1997.

Also starring on the show are Penélope Cruz as Versace's sister Donatella, Giovanni Cirfiera as their brother Santo, Ricky Martin as Gianni's lover Antonio D'Amico, Mike Farrell as fellow Cunanan victim Lee Miglin, Max Greenfield as Ronnie, Annaleigh Ashford as Elizabeth Cote, Finn Wittrock as Jeff Trail, Jon Jon Briones as Modesto Cunanan, Judith Light as Marilyn Miglin, Dascha Polanco as Det. Lori Wieder and Jay R. Ferguson as FBI Agent Evans.


The Assassination of Gianni Versace contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • In flashbacks, it's shown that while Modesto Cunanan pampered Andrew, he was neglectful towards his older children and physically and emotionally abusive towards his wife. It's also heavily implied that Modesto molested Andrew at one point, which was not confirmed in real life (though he was rumored to have been molested by a priest).
    • The first onscreen appearance of Andrew's mother tells you everything you need to know about them. She keeps cheering and babying him, and tells him she's been telling flamboyant lies about him to other people to make them jealous (though they are later revealed to be lies Andrew told her first). Yet when he tries to reach to her for emotional support, she pulls out to focus on the lies. In other words, she doesn't care about her son now as much as about the fake tale of success that he has created around himself. And he knows it.
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  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Andrew Cunanan and his parents are more attractive on the show than they were in real life. The real Donatella Versace was also often derided for her appearance even before her plastic surgery, whereas in the show she's played by the beautiful Penelope Cruz.
  • Age Lift: In the show, Lizzie is several years older than Andrew and met him at a party. In real life, she met him when she was his underclassman in school.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: William Reese, Andrew's fourth victim is depicted pleading for his life before Andrew executes him mid-sentence.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Even after several episodes of selfishness, manipulation, and murder, it's hard not to feel bad for Andrew at the very end: he is completely alone with no money, no friends, no vehicle, and not even food. And he has absolutely no plan to get out of his predicament. In fact, he's afraid to even leave the houseboat he's squatting in, for fear of the police and FBI hunting him. And when they finally are (literally) at the door, he takes the only way out he has left.
  • Anachronic Order: The series opens with Versace's murder and then flashes backward to show how Cunanan began his road to the crime, including earlier murders. Thus, most episodes take place Back to Front. There are some exceptions, where Jeff's Day in the Limelight episode features him meeting Andrew for the first time in the same episode where their friendship permanently degrades, while subsequent episodes show them still as best friends.
  • Angst: Towards the end, Andrew just screams in frustration — at nobody in particular.
    • First before he kills Versace, as his life has completely fallen apart.
    • Second after he abandons his stolen car, as he realizes he's trapped on the island due to the police checkpoints.
  • Armored Closet Gay: One of Cunanan's victims Lee Miglin is portrayed as a closeted gay man married to a woman. Downplayed with Jeff Trail who is out to his sister and friends but not his parents or at work (and must adhere to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy during his time in the navy).
    • The john that Andrew picks up on the beach is implied to be one. He can't bring himself to complete a 911 call (after Andrew stole from and almost murdered him) because he knows he'll have to explain what they were up to.
  • Artistic License – Law: Modesto flees the country after fleeing the FBI raid at work. First of all, the FBI serving a warrant would certainly be watching all exits. Second, if the feds were at the point they were taking him into custody, his name would be on an no-fly list so simply hopping on a plane to Manila would not have worked.
    • This is all done for drama. In reality, Modesto had already fled before the FBI raided.
  • Ate His Gun: In the final episode, with the police and FBI closing in on him, Andrew commits suicide by swallowing a gun.
  • Attention Whore: To say that Andrew loves the spotlight would be an Understatement. One episode exploring his teenage years had him show up at a party wearing a red jumpsuit that wouldn't be out of place in a Michael Jackson video. He is also elated at the infamy his murder of Gianni Versaci has brought him before realizing just how badly he has screwed up his life by killing an internationally beloved celebrity.
  • Beauty Inversion: Downplayed. While Versace was an attractive man, Edgar Ramirez - also a very attractive man - is made to look older with gray hair and a slightly dowdier appearance than in real life.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Andrew is desperate for fame and attention, and he can't stop himself from grinning and reveling in the notoriety when he sees confirmation of Versace's death on television. In the finale, however, he quickly realizes that the new media scrutiny has trapped him in the area, and he's forced to hide out in a houseboat, unable to get food or supplies and enduring a ceaseless parade of television coverage of his friends and family; an interview with David's father is the breaking point, and he finally rushes to turn off the many televisions he had playing during his stay.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Andrew's constant lies are almost always gratuitous, ridiculous, and plain unbelievable.
    • Lee's wife Marilyn is adamant that her husband was not murdered by someone he knew, let alone a male escort he had been with, and insists he was murdered for his car. She also presents her son as a rising Hollywood star for nailing a bit part in an upcoming movie.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Andrew kills David Madson and William Reese with bullets to the head.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Andrew is shown to be very knowledgeable on a number of subjects but would rather be a kept man than apply himself in getting a career to sustain the expensive lifestyle he enjoys. Reportedly, the real Andrew Cunanan had an IQ of 147 despite having rather unremarkable grades in school.
  • Broken Pedestal: Somewhat downplayed as Andrew's father was a con man who left the family high and dry when he was about to be busted, selling the house and emptying the accounts weeks earlier and leaving them with nothing. Despite that, Andrew refuses to accept his father could just up and leave them like that but tracking his father to the Philippines forces him to see the truth.
  • Bury Your Gays: Practically "Bury Your Gays: The Movie."
  • The Cameo: Aimee Mann appears as a lounge singer, performing an acoustic cover of "Drive" by The Cars.
  • Camp Gay: Andrew enjoys opera, fashion, and expensive dining.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Inverted by Andrew, who seemingly just cannot bring himself to tell a truth, ever.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Among the leading characters anyway, specifically Gianni, Cunanan, and D'Amico.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Andrew's teen siblings (Elana, Christopher, and Regina Cunanan) are showing having to share a crowded bedroom in the new La Jolla villa. Then they disappear completely and are never seen nor mentioned again.
  • Composite Character: Andrew was actually the youngest of four children, not three. He had two sisters (Elena and Regina) instead of just Elena.
  • Consummate Liar:
    • Andrew for sure. He does it constantly, making up stories about working on movie sets, meeting famous people, even where he comes from and his past. They shift about to the point he can't keep them straight but then claims to not be tripping over his lies. It all comes up when one victim just sighs "you can't do it, can you? You can't turn it off."
    • This runs in the family. Andrew's father Modesto is a con man and he has no qualms about telling bald-faced lies to his family.
  • Consummate Professional: The Escort Agency lady is curt, but she's also good at her job. She turns Andrew down because she knows white fetishists request Asian women, but Asian men are never in demand.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Andrew towards David. It gets to the point that he thinks Jeff moving to Minneapolis means he is trying to make a move on David because David also lives there.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Don't Ask Don't Tell" focuses on Jeff Trail's life and experiences, with Andrew playing a comparatively small role in the episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Andrew and Donatella are both masters of this. Lizzie certainly has her moments too.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The bulk of the series takes place during the nineties, when gay relationships were still largely frowned upon, and thus the police aren't terribly sympathetic when they question the relations of Andrew's victims about their sex lives.
  • Depraved Homosexual: The series posits that Cunanan was driven by envy of other, more successful gay men.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When the money and food run out, and the FBI closing in, Andrew calls his father for help. Modesto not only fails to arrive as promised, but Andrew finds he's actually exploiting his son's plight for personal gain. At this point, Andrew truly is at the end of his rope.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Played straight with Cunanan, but inverted with others. As the series is mostly in reverse order, most characters are killed off in their first appearance and developed in subsequent episodes.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Andrew initially revels in his murder of Gianni Versace and the infamy it brings him. However, his joy vanishes when the authorities take this crime far more seriously than the previous murders Andrew committed and he finds that living on the run is extremely difficult. Turns out that killing a major celebrity has very harsh consequences.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the finale, facing the prospect of losing everything because of Donatella's machinations, Antonio tries to kill himself by downing a whole plate of pills, but he is found by a maid and saved from dying.
    • Jeff considers suicide when he comes at an impasse between his sexuality and the military's policy on homosexuality, but ultimately decides against it.
  • Drugs Are Bad: As if things aren't bad enough for Andrew after losing his sugar daddy (and income), he gets hooked on meth.
    • Andrew's life at the Normandy Hotel becomes picking up johns on the beach at day, then blowing all the proceeds on drugs at night.
  • Epic Fail: Andrew's extravagant date night with David at Chateau Coise was a disaster. Trying to impress, Andrew splurged nearly 3k on the penthouse, champagne, and a lobster dinner, just for David to reveal he wasn't interested in a serious relationship with Andrew. And since Norman cuts him off immediately after this, Andrew is broke and on the hook for that hefty bill.
  • Eye Scream: Andrew kills David by shooting him in his right eye.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Zig-zagged and subverted. Andrew seems to believe he truly loves David, but his possessiveness, violent jealousy and inability to express intimacy in a genuine way is troubling. He likes Jeff and considers him his best friend, but uses him when trying to impress David and sends a potentially damaging postcard to Jeff's parents (who are unaware of his sexuality) to get back at a perceived slight. Liz seems to be one of his only real friends, but he uses her for her wealth and resources (and seems attracted to her husband). He seems to care about his mother and feels guilty about hurting her and her getting dragged into his crimes, but her mothering annoys him and he has no qualms about throwing a tantrum when she doesn't do what he wants. At times it seems like Andrew does desire love, but has no way of properly showing it — or, in the case of an old "unimpressive" boyfriend, settling for less than excessive privileges.
  • Extreme Doormat: Andrew smashes a carton of ice cream his mother got him simply because it wasn't the brand he wanted. She's upset for only a few seconds, and when he tells her to get the right brand next time, she blandly agrees.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father:
    • Andrew's dad discouraged him from becoming a novelist, convinced that there was no money to be had in it.
    • Subverted in the case of Gianni. In sharp contrast to Andrew, Gianni's mother encouraged him when she found out that he wanted to be a dressmaker like her. However, she herself is a straight example; she wanted to be a doctor and her father wouldn't allow it (hence her support for her son's chosen path).
  • Fag Hag: Lizzie Cote is almost always the only woman in Andrew's circle.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Andrew threatens to frame David for Jeff's murder to control him and keep him by his side. Later (chronologically) he taunts Lee about how he will expose him and ruin his reputation forever, right before murdering him.
  • Foil: Both Lee Miglin and Versace are this to Andrew Cunanan. Both of them became successful and beloved through hard work despite coming from nothing (a possibility Modesto dismissed as fairy tale) and touched the lives of others through expression of their passion (as in the case of Versace) or through quiet acts of generosity (Miglin). On the other hand, Andrew never put in the effort to work hard or get an education, preferring to get ahead by manipulating others or getting privileges, and his only way of trying to get closer to others is by bragging about an imaginary life and lavishing them with food and gifts he can't afford.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Andrew captures a cockroach in a cocktail glass. We later see the trapped roach dead right before the Andrew's own demise, when he's trapped in the boathouse.
    • In Donatella's last scene, she looks into a mirror and sees a distorted image of herself that resembles how she will look in the present day, after several rounds of plastic surgery.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Sociopathic Andrew often wears large, round glasses.
  • Freudian Excuse: The series posits that Andrew's upbringing played a role in his behavior — his father spoiled and pampered him, telling him that he was special and to make a lot of money and be important rather than follow his dreams and talents. Later, after Modesto's criminal dealings are discovered, he imparts on Andrew that Hard Work Hardly Works and the only way to get ahead in life is by cheating, stealing and manipulating others, which Andrew ends up doing despite having the potential and talent to get ahead in life in more honest ways. There's also the implication that Andrew was sexually abused as a child, either by his father or by a priest (or both).
  • Friend Versus Lover: Donatella, Versace's sister and best friend, spars with Antonio over him until an exasperated Versace forces them to get along as he deals with his illness.
  • Gold Digger: Despite the fact that Antonio has been with Versace with fifteen years and sincerely loves him, Donatella still harbors some suspicion that he's just a taker and is only with Versace for what he can provide. Played straight with David who enters into a relationship with Norman for the latter's money.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera mercifully cuts away when Andrew beats Jeff to death with a hammer.
    • Averted when we see Kevin Bond cave in Lincoln Aston's face with the obelisk statue.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: When Andrew calls Modesto a liar and a thief, Modesto fires back that there's simply no way to get ahead in America without lying and cheating, which was why he resorted to preying on the vulnerable to make money. However, it's clear that people like Versace and Lee Miglin came from the same place Modesto did but were capable of hard work, passion, talent and charisma, whereas he had none. This seems to make a big impression on Andrew, who otherwise has the capability and potential to be successful on his own talents and merits; even with escorting, he successfully gains the attention of several older, wealthy men after just one night, after an escorting agency refuses to give him a chance.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Andrew heads to Miami to get close enough to commit the murder of his final target: Gianni Versace, and books an apartment under his real name, as he has a whole two months to plot, stalk, and ultimately kill the fashion designer - despite already being on FBI's Most Wanted. The show pulls no punches in making clear that Andrew Cunanan got as far as he did due to the pervading homophobic attitudes in 1990's America, the biggest failed manhunt in US history:
    Ronnie: See, Andrew was vain. He wanted the whole world to know his pain. The pain of being born a lie. Andrew is not hiding. He is trying to be seen.
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: Modesto in a nutshell. He desperately tries to paint himself as The Ace to his coworkers, but it's very apparent he's not a very good stockbroker. His career sharply declines as people get wise to this.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: In real life, Andrew, presumably on purpose, violently threw his mother against the wall and dislocated her shoulder, as the two were arguing about Andrew's recent admission of his homosexuality. In the series, the incident is seemingly portrayed as an accident, and one that occurred over something much more trivial – Andrew getting annoyed by Mary Anne's insistence that she come along with him to Italy while he "works" for Versace, and the incident causes him genuine guilt and remorse, especially after she covers for him at the doctor's. The show also omits a number of other red flags about Andrew's physically abusive behavior towards friends.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • On the other hand, the show has Andrew present at the murder of Lincoln Aston for narrative purposes (i.e. tying up his relationship with Aston before he moved onto Norman Blachford), but this comes at the cost of watching Andrew not report the murder to police or call for medical help for Aston. In real life, police found nothing that could place Cunanan there or tie him to the murder in any way.
    • Modesto gave that TV interview after Andrew's death. Sure, trying to profit of your son's murders and deaths is despicable, but still not quite as despicable as trying to do it when he's still alive.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Andrew eventually degrades to this, when he just won't accept that David doesn't feel the same way.
  • Hope Spot: "House by the Lake" ends with David apparently managing to seek shelter from Andrew's bullets... and reuniting with his father. This is an obvious hallucination; David took a bullet to chest and is now flat on his back, with Andrew preparing to deliver a kill shot.
    • As an in-universe villainous Hope Spot, Andrew calls his father for help after he realizes he's trapped with the FBI hot on his trail. Modesto promises to come and rescue him the next day, and Andrew prepares to escape, only to realize Modesto hasn't arrived and is instead bragging about selling movie rights of the story to reporters.
  • I Am Not My Father: Zig-zagged. The last time Andrew meets his fugitive father in the Philippines, he tells him "I will never be like you". But Andrew is already a lazy, entitled, phony parasite. Nevertheless, Andrew tries to straighten himself out by working the night shift at a pharmacy and helping his mother... but only to slide into a parasitic, destructive, criminal life later.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: At the root of Andrew's madness is his desire to be somebody important.
  • Implausible Deniability: When Andrew presses Norman for more money, Norman calmly reveals he has already checked out Andrew's past and knows his entire history. He openly talks of it and to every note, Andrew states "that's not true" as if somehow thinking that will sway a man who quite obviously has had him investigated thoroughly. It happens a few more times as even when the proof of his lies is thrown into his face, Andrew will insist they're not true.
    • It looks like Andrew gets this from his dad. After he flees the country just before being busted for fraud, he insists to Andrew he has "millions out of reach." The fact he's saying this while hiding out in the crummy home of his brother just emphasizes how he already ran through all the cash he stole.
  • Ironic Name: Modesto isn't exactly a humble fellow. It is also uncomfortably close to Molest-o, given his relationship with young Andrew.
  • It's All About Me: Andrew is so tone-deaf that he interrupts David (the man he is trying to seduce) when David is talking about his unprivileged childhood (after Andrew asked him about it''), to tell yet another anecdote about Andrew's pampered childhood.
  • Jerkass: Modesto Cunanan is a terrible father, an abusive husband, and a manipulative worker who preys on the elderly. When he's about to be brought to justice, he flees the country and leaves his abandoned family destitute before losing all of the money he absconded with, and giving his son a "The Reason You Suck" Speech after the latter tracks and dresses him down. Later, after Andrew's killing spree, he's plotting ways to profit off of interviews and lies to a panicky Andrew about coming to rescue him before making a public statement that not only dismisses his son's homosexuality as an offensive rumor, but also falsely claims that Andrew permitted him to sell his life story.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Donatella is very critical of Gianni publicly coming out as gay in a magazine interview - but she rationally cites that the resulting discrimination could seriously harm their brand name, and their hundreds of employees who depend on him would be out of a job (and citing times this ruined the careers of past designers). She believes he's being naively optimistic, pointing out that he's rich and lives in a mansion, isolated from the heavy discrimination gay people still face at the time.
    • After one of his patrons is murdered by a man he picked up in a gay bar, Andrew mocks the "gay panic" defense that the killer will inevitably claim and the police will accept.note 
    • When Andrew cries about his father ruining the family, Modesto tells him to be a man and deal with adversity for once in his life.
  • Just Between You and Me: Before murdering Lee, Andrew tortures him by gloating about how he will ruin his reputation by outing him as gay.
  • Kick the Dog: A Cunanan family tradition:
    • Andrew outs Jeff to Jeff's father in an indirect but rather deliberate way (with a postcard), out of petty spite.
    • Modesto is cruel and tyrannical to his family (except Andrew and especially his wife). For example, he fakes her out by claiming he didn't get the Merrill Lynch job. As dickish as this is, he then verbally abuses her for believing him and trying to console him!
  • Likes Older Men: Andrew prefers targeting older men. It's left ambiguous if this is because he feels he has more in common with them or because they're more likely to be in the closet or desperate, and thus easier for him to con.
  • Macho Camp: Antonio D'Amico, moreso when played by Ricky Martin.
  • Manly Gay: Jeff Trail, a Navy lieutenant not even suspected of being gay until he defends a gay sailor from a beating. He later works doing physical work at a propane tank warehouse.
  • Morality Pet: Liz seems to be one of Andrew's few genuine friends, and they drift apart in tandem with Andrew's Sanity Slippage.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Cunanan is shown to be a chronic liar, telling people all sorts of stories about his past depending on the situation.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The series implies this was the touch-point that started Andrew's Rampage. Jealous that Jeff has designs on David, Andrew brutally bludgeons him to death. It all goes downhill from there...
  • My Beloved Smother: Mary Anne Cunanan is portrayed as a frighteningly overindulgent mother, to the point that when Andrew shows up at her place coming down off of a drug binge, she insists on bathing him as if he were still a child.
    Mary Anne: You don't smell like you. I'll wash you until you smell like you again.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Andrew accidentally breaks the arm of his mother (who he saw physically and verbally abused by his father during his childhood) during an argument, one of the few times he's genuinely remorseful about hurting another person, and breaks down in tears at the doctor's office after she covers up for him.
  • Naturalized Name: Andrew's dad Modesto adopts the name "Pete" in a bid to obscure his Filipino background.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: In the finale, Donatella talks about how Gianni called her on the morning of his death to bug her about her upcoming fashion show, and how she was so annoyed that she hung up on him and refused to answer when he called again half an hour later, missing her last chance to speak to her brother.
  • Never My Fault: During his fight with Andrew when he visits him in Manila, Modesto shows no remorse about the dishonest tactics he used to get rich, and shows no accountability for Andrew having turned out to be a Manchild through his pampering and favoritism, a young man who lacks the skills and values to become a success as an adult.
  • Nice Guy: David is sweet and well-liked, and unable to hurt animals — or stand up to Andrew until it's too late.
  • Nothing but Hits: Plenty of 90s dance hits are featured throughout the series.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Inverted. At the end of each episode there is a disclaimer saying how most of the series is speculation.
  • Oh, Crap!: Oh so many.
    • Gianni Versace, when he turns around to see some random guy is about to blow his head off.
    • Modesto, gets three in very short order:
      • First, when the Brokerage Firm directors confront him about his embezzlement.
      • Second, when he sees the FBI raiding the office for him.
      • Third, when he flees home to get money and a bug out bag, and the feds show up there, too.
    • Mary Anne and Andrew when they learn they have lost absolutely everything. The money, the savings, the house, everything. Andrew can't even process it.
    • William Reese, when Andrew tells him to kneel down...
    • David, when he knows Andrew is about to kill him.
    • Finally, Andrew learns that his shooting of Gianni Versace has finally earned him the FBI's attention. He is completely unprepared for the sudden onslaught of scrutiny.
  • Parental Favoritism: Andrew's dad Modesto favors him over his older brother and sister, to the point of giving him the master bedroom in their new house and buying him a car just because he got into a very exclusive school.
    • In fact, it goes beyond favoritism. Modesto seems to practically worship his youngest son, kissing his feet and declaring he is his best friend.
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted. Though Andrew has moments that appear to be selfless displays of friendship, such as buying expensive dinners or hooking friends up with new lovers, he inevitably uses these gestures as ammunition for manipulation in later arguments.
  • Playing Gertrude:
    • Edgar Ramirez is roughly ten years younger here (at the time of filming) than Gianni was at the time of his death.
    • Cody Fern, who plays David Madson, was 28-years-old at the time of filming, five years younger than Madson was when he was murdered.
  • Police Are Useless: A major theme of the series is the strained relationship between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community, with the indifference to outright homophobia of police and FBI agents investigating the case leading them to not take Cunanan's murders seriously, or failing to outreach to gay men either to warn them or enlist their help. Even when investigators do take the case seriously, the lack of coordination between different jurisdictions (see Poor Communication Kills for a glaring example) prevents them from sharing information and arresting Cunanan before he kills his next victim.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The FBI arrive at the scene to tell how Cunanan is a suspect in the death due to various murders. The Miami cops ask why they weren't informed and it turns out there are hundreds of "wanted" posters of Cunanan right in one agent's car, they just hadn't gotten around to handing them out yet.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Andrew refuses to get a job or an education, preferring to just leech off of others and whines when he doesn't get his way or doesn't get the privileges he wants, often making him look like a child going into a tantrum when denied a new toy. He even smashes a carton of ice cream his mother got simply because it wasn't the right brand. note 
  • Rags to Riches: The Cunanans start out in a poor, dilapidated house in lower-income National City, and then move to a upscale villa in affluent La Jolla. They have about ten years of prosperous living (due to Modesto's shady business dealings) but it all collapses when he flees the country, leaving his family ruined.
  • Reality Ensues: See Did Not Think This Through.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • In the finale, Ronnie chews out the FBI agents for expecting the gay community to help them catch Cunanan when they've ignored violence against gay people for years.
    • Andrew himself is on the receiving end from both his own father and David Madson, The former who mocks Andrew for his weak-willed nature, and the latter who calls out Cunanan on his parasitic lifestyle.
    • Andrew gets another from David, who points that he's not merely a liar, he's so compulsive he can't physically stop it. To which Andrew responds with more absurd lies.
  • This Is Going to Be Huge: "A Random Killing" shows Miglin touting his Chicago "Skyneedle", and his wife talking about their son's Duke rising Hollywood career for landing a role as an extra in Air Force One.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Versace siblings. Gianni is red, Donatella is blue.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Andrew likes to impose himself on other people. He ingratiates himself with Gianni by barging on his table and then talking incessantly until Gianni becomes curious enough to invite him to stick around. He tries to win over David by plying him with expensive gifts so that David feels compelled to keep putting up with him.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: The police first mistake Jeff's body for David's, then for Andrew's.
  • The Resenter: Sort of implied that Andrew resents older rich gay men who managed to build successful careers by remaining closeted. He blames his lack of opportunities in life on being gay - but he's really just a shiftless psychopath with a taste for the finer things and no desire to do actual work for them. His hypocrisy is gradually revealed in later episodes when he's openly living with a wealthy older gay man who isn't closeted at all, but still resents his success even as he mooches off him. The same episode has Andrew claim he has a PhD, only for his partner to call this out as bullshit because he discovered that Andrew simply dropped out of college. Andrew doesn't even bother to claim discrimination as an excuse in response, he just childishly protests that "It was boring!"
    • To a lesser degree, Andrew's older siblings dub him "Prince Andrew," as their father makes it abundantly clear Andrew is the only one he cares about.
  • Returning War Vet: Modesto constantly cites his past Naval Career as a reason people should trust him. It's always leverage for a con.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Andrew really does tell David the truth after the latter asks him to be honest for once. However, it still sounds like such a lie and the viewer hasn't seen the flashback episode of Andrew's life yet, so they and David don't believe him.
  • Sanity Slippage: Cunanan, though deceitful and entitled from the beginning, is nonetheless shown to be capable of empathy and sincere attachments to people earlier in his life. A variety of things - discovering his father's career as a conman, various romantic disappointments, his inability to find either a stable job or a lover willing to support him, and his increased drug use - combined to drive him over the edge, to the point where Cunanan becomes an outright sociopath.
  • Saying Too Much: The press gets ahold of the information that police are following Lee Miglin's car phone signal and non-chalantly blurts it out on the radio for anyone to hear, even though the only reason the car would be moving at all is because Lee's murderer (Andrew) is driving it. It goes exactly as you'd expect: Andrew abandons the car at the first opportunity and murders another man for his vehicle.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: Andrew is poor and unloved. But he wouldn't, if he just stopped throwing money and lies at people to try to buy their love, and actually made the effort to better himself and gain their love by being himself.
  • Serious Business: Even after being forced out of the Navy, Jeff won't disrespect the uniform by impersonating an officer at Andrew's request. He will also not stand for Andrew trying to out him to his family.
  • Sissy Villain: Cunanan is portrayed as more flamboyant than most of his victims.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Andrew and Gallo, several times.
    • It's not just friendly sniping, there's real malice under the surface. Gallo knows Andrew is a fraud and detests him. Andrew in turn hates Gallo for being onto him.
  • The Sociopath: Andrew Cunanan, diagnosed as a psychopath in real life, and portrayed in this with creepy realism: he isn't a Hollywood Psychopath, moustache-twirling villain doing a Hannibal Lecter impression. Instead, he's outwardly cheerful and has learned how to con his way through life with glib, shallow charm. It's all a fake act, and the actor does a great job of showing the "flat affect" psychopaths have: he's always got a slight smile and soft purr to his voice, but he just learned it by rote and is doing it almost robotically, while his dead eyes are sizing up other people like an insect. Even when other people start to criticize him, he just doubles down on the "friendly" act - which only makes it sound jarringly more fake (i.e. such as when he's on the run with David after brutally killing Trail, and keep rambling off shallow pleasantries, undaunted.) Moreover, by the time his killing spree starts, Cunanan has moved on to heavier drugs known to result in increased violent behavior i.e. shooting up on crystal meth.
    • Played with in later episodes (which are the chronologically earliest scenes). Andrew's youth sees him as facing genuine heartbreak when a sugar daddy doesn't want a serious relationship, and Andrew rejects the money his boyfriend gives him, in contrast to his eventual days of being an entitled kept man. He's also sincerely disappointed and angered by his father screwing over the family and leaving them nothing, appears to be real friends with Liz and breaks down in tears of genuine remorse when he accidentally injures his mother, setting the idea that Andrew's descent into psychopathy was a gradual process, which real-life friends argued as well.
    • The apple didn't fall far from the tree: Modesto thinks absolutely nothing of stealing and betraying investor trust. He genuinely feels this is how you succeed in America.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Subverted; Andrew's job at the drugstore might have been one of his healthier decisions, with a workload that he could handle and a boss who actually tried to look out for Andrew. Sadly, his ego wouldn't allow him to settle for working in retail, and he decided to become a male escort instead.
  • Stepford Smiler: Lee's wife Marilyn Klecka knows her late husband was gay but she keeps acting like he wasn't and his murder has nothing to do with his sexuality. She also acts like their son has already made it into Hollywood when he's just landed an extra role in an upcoming movie.
  • Sticky Fingers: When not conning people, Andrew supports himself by stealing objects from his dates.
  • Straight Gay: Many of Andrew's flings and victims are closeted men.
  • Technology Marches On: Invoked; When Versace is killed, one man takes a Polaroid photo of the corpse before it's taken away. He then tells reporters he has the only photo of Versace's body and "the bidding starts at $30,000." Today, there would have been hordes of people taking photos and videos with phones but this shows how in 1997, one lucky photo was all it took.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: While tripping on crystal at a bar, Andrew imagines he's being measured for a suit by Versace and has a conversation with him. In true Andrew fashion, it is really just Andrew doing the talking, with Versace confirming everything Andrew thought about at the end.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Andrew is pretty much the poster boy for toxic, unhealthy relationships. With his penchant for stealing, manipulation, and murder, everyone he meets is worse off for having met him.
  • The Twink: Andrew, leaning to the eviler side of the trope.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In stark contrast to the OJ trial, there is little concrete record of the Versace investigation, and Cunanan's motives for his killing spree remain a mystery to this day. The show can thus mostly speculate on Cunanan's relationship with his victims based on secondhand testimony from friends and acquaintances (in particular, he was never proven to have known either Versace or Lee Miglin before killing them). Additionally, the surviving Versace family were outraged at what they saw as false claims of what actually happened.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Andrew quickly starts to lose it when he realizes the FBI are closing in on him.
    • In the midst of his Humiliation Conga in "Descent," Andrew breaks up with Norman with a haughty tantrum, only to come crawling back literally on his hands and knees and screaming for Norman to let him back in after his funds dry up.
  • Villain Protagonist: The series might as well be called "The Murders of Andrew Cunanan." When he's not killing people, Cunanan never fails to be a manipulative, lying piece of shit, though later episodes portray him with a modicum of sympathy.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the finale, Marilyn Miglin tears into the FBI agents on Cunanan's case after learning that in the two months since her husband's death, the FBI has still not even found Cunanan.
  • Wicked Pretentious: Andrew Cunanan desires the finer things in life and feels entitled to them: expensive clothes, cars, vacations to Europe, etc. He pretends he has the lifestyle standards of a wealthy jet set/fashion designer type - but in reality he's none of these things. He just obsessively reads Vogue magazine and gives rants about choosing between fashion designs which he's probably never seen in real life, much less owned.
  • Yandere: In "House by the Lake", Andrew is portrayed as being obsessed with David Madsen, murdering Jeff Trail after growing suspicious that David was had hooked up with Jeff.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Modesto appears to have been cheating on his wife with the office secretary before he flees the country.
  • You're Just Jealous: Andrew tries to use Jeff to make David jealous at Andrew's birthday party. By arranging for Jeff to give Andrew an expensive present (designer shoes that Andrew purchased for himself), Andrew is hoping to get David to pursue him. Not only does David not care, the ruse backfires when Andrew later sees David and Jeff are hitting it off famously.


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