- Alas, Poor Villain: Though the series never shies away from Andrew's psychopathy, violence or destruction of innocent, good people, the last few episodes view him with an ounce of sympathy, portraying him as a bright, resourceful and outgoing young man who could have earned the success he so craved had things went differently, but instead became a manipulative, self-centered, murderous psychopath; unlike the first episodes, where Cunanan is violent and devoid of emotion, the last episodes see him as expressing genuine guilt, sadness, affection and disappointment, making him more easy to pity as he spends his last days trapped, desperate and scared, calling his father in tearful panic and apparently regretting his actions before killing himself to evade capture.
- Anvilicious: Homophobia and the societal demonization of gay people/gay culture is bad.
- Broken Base: The Very Loosely Based on a True Story nature of this series has divided fans. On one side are those who are appalled at the liberties the show has taken (including details about Cunanan's relationships with his victims, which the show created from whole cloth) while others are pissed at the fact that the book the show is based off of (Vulgar Favors) promotes controversial rumors, such as Versace having AIDS (which the show hints at via vague scenes which are later shown to reference to Gianni's well-documented fight with cancer) and knowing Cunanan beforehand (for which there is no evidence, besides Cunanan's own, decidedly-unreliable testimony). Other fans argue that, given the dearth of information available about why Cunanan carried out his crimes, liberties would have to be taken in order to make the show compelling.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: It's the story of one of the biggest failed manhunts in American history, many of the characters introduced will end up horribly murdered within one or two episodes of their introduction, and Cunanan, who gets most of the focus, is so relentlessly cruel and manipulative that it's very hard to sympathize with him even when he's portrayed in a more complex light. Versace himself is a sympathetic and rather compelling character but is hugely Out of Focus in most episodes after the first one, and the rest of the other victims get only an episode or two of characterization before they too are killed.
- Draco in Leather Pants: Andrew is played by the attractive Darren Criss, eliciting perhaps more sympathy than the show intended and leading some viewers to coo over scenes of Andrew and David together without a hint of irony.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: A popular interpretation of the series, that is referenced in numerous reviews of episodes of the show, is that Ryan Murphy is using the murders of Andrew Cunanan less as a true crime story drama, but as a springboard to explore the homosexual experience of the 1990's and how dangerous it was to be gay, even during an era when gay acceptance started gaining mainstream traction.
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- In the midst of this series about a case where the FBI performed notoriously poorly and missed numerous opportunities to bring the perpetrator in, came the Parkland school massacre, in which they also turned out to have ignored numerous reports that the shooter was dangerous.
- Under the Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory theory, it also treats the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" stance as homosexuality as such.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Part of Andrew's success in his predation is because his victims were marginalized in society, too afraid to come forward about minor concerns and yellow flags concerning Andrew in fear of the public ridicule, shame, family fallout, legitimate loss of their livelihoods that potentially outing themselves would cause. An argument can be made that one of the reasons the FBI fumbled so hard in their pursuit of Andrew is because of who he and his victims were: the "foreignness" of queerness either subconsciously making them put less effort in their work or, even worse, a conscious decision to be lax. And as far as the US has come with gay rights, there is still much to be done to address the psychological, emotional,and mental trauma that living under such conditions can leave on an entire swath of society.
- Squick: The murders are shown in full violent detail, plus the final episode has Cunanan desperately licking garbage after being unable to eat all day.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The series could be really called "The Assassin of Gianni Versace." Versace himself works as an accessory, framing character, which is a pity because the circumstances of this Self-Made Man who became a global celebrity are quite captivating but only shown sparsely.
- Values Dissonance: The 1990's gets this in spades, per the Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory interpretation noted by reviewers. Between "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (which created witch hunts against closeted gay servicemen and only made homophobia in the military worse, not better), references to coming out of the closet as something that can destroy someone professionally, paranoia from gay men who refuse to report crimes out of fear that the police would not investigate/claim they were asking for it, and the psychological impact of closeting one's sexuality and the resentment boiling over to murderous rage; the show debunks a lot of people's rose colored view of the 1990's in relations to how things were for gay men and women at the time.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: While the show is more about Andrew than Gianni Versace, the show does a very good job of humanizing almost all of Andrew's victims, giving all but William Reese one episode devoted to them. From the episodes to the title of the entire series, the show seems determined to not center Andrew which, for a psychopath fixated on his relative lack of success in comparison to other gay men, is pretty political in of itself.
- The Woobie:
- The Miglins. Lee is a rich and successful man who's also in the closet during a time when he cannot afford to be out, and his attempts at being gay discreetly cost him his life and wrecks his reputation posthumously. Marylin is his wife and widow who is forced to wrestle with her grief publicly and try to make sense of her husband's sudden death.
- "House by the Lake" introduces poor David Madsen, Andrew Cunanan's long-suffering crush, who desperately wants Andrew out of his life but instead ends up being killed by him.
- Antonio D'Amico, Gianni Versace's lover, loses the love of his life in the very first episode. Besides having to deal with the grief, he also has to contend with Gianni's homophobic sister, who ruthlessly cheats him out of his inheritance and ousts him from the company within days of Gianni's funeral despite having being his partner for 15 years.
YMMV / The Assassination of Gianni Versace