“Love Simon” offers lighthearted LGBT representation

By Sam Anteau

Staff Writer

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Before anything else, I want to say that this is not a review of the movie Love, Simon. 

I am notoriously terrible at discerning a “good movie” from a “bad movie;” my reviews tend to center around whether I was able to sit in the theater and forget about the crippling anxiety that I have surrounding upcoming deadlines.  

So, to the chagrin of many of my more cinematically-minded friends, that means I thought Suicide Squad was a good movie. Sue me. 

All that said, I loved the movie Love, Simon. It’s a coming of age story of a John Hughes persuasion. The difference, of course, is that the main character is a gay teenager who has yet to come out.  

What struck me first about Love, Simon is that this movie isn’t overwhelmingly sad. So often when it comes to movies with an LGBT main character, we get tragedies like Brokeback MountainCall Me By Your Name, or Philadelphia.  

Those films were about the suffering of LGBT people, and, while the stories are important, they offer a very bleak picture of what it is like to be LGBT. Yes, love is often involved, but it’s not the feel-good sort of love we get in the rom-coms that permeate the box office. 

I’m not saying that Love, Simon ignores the plights of being gay. It doesn’t, and there are plenty of times when bad/upsetting things happen to Simon that are directly related to him being gay.  

But the movie doesn’t have a constant undertone of near-oppressive sadness. It is, before anything else, a teen comedy, a coming of age story.  

It is sweet, funny, and tremendously endearing with a refreshingly happy ending. And, from the opinion of an LGBT person, it needed to exist.  

The bleak outlook on being an LGBT person that is often offered in cinema is pretty disheartening, especially to young people who have yet to come out.  

Seeing gay people dying constantly in film (while it often, unfortunately, reflects real life) just makes those people more scared to be who they are.  

But Love, Simon offers something different. Yes, there is homophobia at work in the movie, and we do see Simon get bullied, but he gets a happy ending.  

We get to see him have a good relationship with his friends, to be happy in high school, and in the end, he finds love.  

This is typical of pretty much all main characters in teen movies but, considering that there are a very limited number of teen films featuring LGBT leads, it’s pretty much unheard of for a gay character. 

With the “Bury Your Gays” trope being called out more often than ever (for good reason), it is so refreshing and hopeful to see a movie where the gay character ends up happy. Not only does he end up happy, but the film itself is lighthearted and fun! It’s like Greg Berlanti looked at my Christmas list. 

In summary, if you want a solid way to support the LGBT community, or even just like a good teen comedy, I would go see Love, Simon. Even if you aren’t a member of the LGBT community, it’s just an enjoyable movie, especially in this current box office lull.  

Senior staff reflect, say farewell

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Photography Editor Tavyon Richardson (‘18)

My college experience has forever changed me. I am not only glad to have this opportunity, but I am also glad to have made a positive impact on so many people. I have also been through many hardships in Alma pertaining to my racial identity, but I am still here.

I am still here because I know I can do better with my life. The perseverance I have shown through these hardships have made me a stronger person in the long run. The people who have talked down to me I now realize are stuck in their ways. And as they stay in their place I continue to thrive and move forward. Many students have a certain image of who they think I am, producing stereotypes from those assumptions. I encourage you to look pass these assumptions and see me for who I actually am.

I grew up through the blight of Detroit, and I have had to create a façade to survive in the city during my childhood.

I am not a talkative person because of this, nor do I show many emotions. In Detroit, was taught to not talk or express my emotions because doing these things is a good way to get caught up in bad situations. Coming to Alma, I learned that it’s okay to show your emotions and express your opinions. I have opened up myself over these four years. I know that I have more opening up to do, but without Alma I would not have grown up at all.

Many of my friends have helped me out of my cocoon of silence. Kappa Iota has helped me understand regardless of who you are, you will always have someone to support you.

My time at the Almanian has also turned me into a much better photographer than my freshman year. With my new skills, I hope to transfer what I have learned to future photographers interested in working for the Almanian next year.

I have had my ups and downs with Alma College. From good times of making new friends, to the bad times of racial tension. I don’t regret going through these instances, because they have made me a better person and I am still here. But it is now time to move on to better things that will also make me a better person.

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Thoughts Writer Samantha Anteau (‘18)

Though I have only worked at The Almanian for a short time, I really valued the time that I spent here and the work that I did. After spending all four years of high school working on my school paper, I decided to take a break from journalism for a while. However, after my short time working at the Almanian, I really regret that decision.

Writing opinion pieces for the paper has helped me become a stronger writer and affords me an opportunity to talk about and share the things I love with the campus community. The Almanian provides a platform for people to not only improve their writing abilities, but also to work with some of the most passionate people I’ve met in my time at Alma.

While I worked under Jelly Gilmore as Editor-in-Chief, she encouraged us to be a better staff and worked tirelessly to make the paper as excellent as it had the potential to be. Working with people who clearly care a lot about something is an incredible source of inspiration, and I found that while at The Almanian. Joining the writing staff was one of the best decisions that I made while at Alma, and I would encourage others to do the same.

My advice to current and future students can be boiled down to one of my favorite quotes from my boy, F. Scott Fitzgerald: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be.” If you want to be a writer, then write. If you want to be a painter, then paint. If you want to be the kind of person that people look up to, be the kind of person you would want to look up to.

Do the things that make you feel the most you, even if they’re scary, and you may find that, in time, you turn into the person you always wanted to be.

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Web Editor and Staff Writer Monica Kunovsky (‘18)

Coming to Alma, I thought I wanted to get into journalism and make a career out of it. While my path towards a career has changed, and I’ve learned that writing can be skillfully woven into any plethora of careers, my time working for the Almanian has been one that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Where else would I be able to write zodiacs and get PAID to do that? It’s a platform that I have been able to use to exercise creative energy, as well as learn about professionalism and work on my communication skills (I may be majoring in Communication, but you can never learn TOO MUCH about how to properly interact with others).

I still remember writing my first article, I spent all week interviewing, nervously tweaking the article—worried that it wouldn’t be up to standards and that I would be fired instantly. I stayed up working on it, until the last possible moment before begrudgingly sending it in, feeling as if my fate was sealed and I would never work for a newspaper organization in my life.

As we can see now, that moment was three years ago, and in that time I’ve been lucky and fortunate to not only be a writer for the Almanian, but the web editor as well. It’s been a learning curve to say the least, just because of how thrown into the position I was. There was never too much guidance or much of a manual given to how to properly execute this position, and there still is a lot of improvement that could be made to the online presence of the Almanian.

Overall though we have come leaps and bounds from where we started, and my time has web editor has shown that I do enjoy partaking in the online realm of branding, making media, and interacting with the monthly trolls or bitcoin bots (you’d be surprised how many messages the Almanian gets asking if we’d like to invest in bitcoin and if we’ve heard of this, ‘cool new currency’).

My advice to those students is to keep going, and to trek it out. Life is going to be messy and filled with agonizing moments where you feel stuck. It’s all in good nature to help build you up and make you solid enough to think quick on your feet when it comes time to graduate from Alma. Don’t take anything too seriously either, life’s meant to be enjoyed and if you get too wrapped up in the logistics of it then you’re wasting time!

It’s time to take video games seriously

By Samantha Anteau

Staff Writer

When I first started playing video games in earnest,  my mother was completely perplexed. Her perplexity grew as I continued to spend hours and hours of my life on one game, Mass Effect.  

“I don’t know how you can sit around just shooting people for hours,” she’d say. This is a fairly typical response for me when people who don’t play video games hear that I do. 

I’m pretty comfortable with this reaction. I don’t often feel the need to defend myself or other gamers from the stereotype that pervades: the overweight dude in his mom’s basement, sitting in the dark while surrounded by Doritos and Mountain Dew.  

Video games have become so wide-spread and popular in recent years that they have moved beyond that stereotype. 

However, what does frustrate me is the lack of acknowledgement of video games as a storytelling platform. For a long time, people outside of the gaming world have really undervalued the narrative potential of video games.  

Frankly, I can’t pretend like I wasn’t one of those people for a long time; aside from my love affair with FIFA and the occasional Batman game, I thought pretty much every video game was just about shooting and beating people up. I had watched plenty of videos of people playing Grand Theft Auto to cultivate such an opinion. 

At least, that was the case until I played my first story/character-heavy game, Bioware’s Mass Effect 2. It took me that game to realize that I had been missing something.  

Mass Effect offered a wonderful story with lovable side characters, endearing romance, and compelling villains. It made me feel as much as any great book, television show, or movie ever has.  

Were there still a bunch of bad guys to shoot? Yes, of course, but there was also a valuable story with a lot of heart. I still maintain that it is one of the best sci-fi properties to be released in the last fifty years.  

All that gushing aside, Mass Effect isn’t the only game with an interesting story, nor is sci-fi the only genre to explore. There are compelling horror games, like Silent Hill 2 and The Walking Dead, and fantasy games, like Dragon Age and The Witcher. But if science fiction is your thing, Bioshock and Half-Life both offer a really interesting plot alongside their action. 

The point is that, just like movies and television, video games offer something to everyone. Whether it be action or suspense, fantasy or romance, there is a video game that plays to those desires.  

While gaming is so often boxed in as simply mind-numbing violence to those who aren’t in the community, games offer so much more than that. 

I’m not saying that all video games offer compelling stories along with their action. There are plenty of games simply about causing chaos and shooting as many people as possible. This is fine; not every game need be a deep narrative experience. 

But video games shouldn’t be written off as mindless entertainment. They offer an interactive platform in which players can immerse themselves in a story where their decisions could impact the ending. 

Video games are the current height of immersive storytelling in a way that movies and television can’t capture.  

Even if you don’t end up playing video games, or only have one or two that you stick to, at least acknowledging the fact that they offer something unique and special is definitely a step in the right direction.  

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BioWare teases a new Dragon Age game

By Samantha Anteau

Staff Writer

Though game developer BioWare is currently focusing the majority of its attentions on its ambitious new game, Anthem, many fans of the developer have expressed their desire for the next game in the Dragon Age series.  

While an official announcement has yet to come, it has been made clear that another installment in the series is in the pipeline.  

Granted, the most detail fans have gotten is Casey Hudson, a general manager at BioWare, tweeting that it is going to be “story and character focused,” which is a description suiting… pretty much every original BioWare game.  

It’s not much to go on, or even an official announcement, but it is enough to have fans speculating what could be coming next and creating wish lists of what they would like to see in the next game.  

After spending a significant amount of time playing and thinking about the Dragon Age series, I have settled on a top three wishlist. 

Bringing Back Familiar Faces 

While lacking the direct connections that are seen in the Mass Effect trilogy, the Dragon Age games are interconnected. As they exist in the same world within the same handful of years, you often find yourself running into characters you recognize from previous games.  

The protagonist from Dragon Age 2 had a big part to play in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Leliana, a party member from the original Dragon Age, returned in Inquisition as a spymaster and main member of leadership.  

Call me overattached, but I’m not totally ready to leave Inquisition characters behind. There were plenty of party members that you got to know, and any number of them could have a place in the next installment of the Dragon Age series.  

I would be especially sad to never again see my favorite Tevinter mage, Dorian Pavus, which brings me to my next request. 

Setting the Game in the Tevinter Imperium 

In my opinion, the Tevinter Imperium is one of the most underutilized settings in the game. It has been a source of contention and mystery, as well as the birthplace of some truly interesting characters (see: Dorian and Fenris).  

However, we have never gotten to see it. Thus far, the games have stayed mainly within the bounds of Ferelden and Orlais.  

This move into the Tevinter Imperium would certainly be an interesting one, as it would shift the game from a culture that is mage-hating to one control by mages.  

Actually, in Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC, there is a fairly big hint suggesting that the next game will focus on the Tevinter Imperium. I’m really hoping it wasn’t just a tease, because this is an intriguing area that should be explored. 

A Main Plot Focusing on Elves 

In the second Dragon Age game, the main focus was on the struggle and oppression of mages. An often overlooked struggle when it comes to plots is that of elves, who are just as oppressed – if not moreso – than mages.  

There have been plenty of elf-related side quests in the games that can display the struggle of oppression that elves go through in the DA universe, but never has it been a main focus of the game.  

Just like with the Tevinter Imperium, there was a fairly big (if not totally blatant) hint that this was going to be, at the very least, a huge source of conflict in the next game.  

I’m honestly surprised it has taken this long for them to utilize elves to their fullest potential. In a genre where elves are often painted as near god-like, with wisdom and a deep understanding of… pretty much everything, Dragon Age’s take on elves is refreshing. Frankly, BioWare should have leaned into that a long time ago. Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 1.37.12 PM

‘Black Panther’ exemplifies the feminist superhero

By Samantha Anteau

Staff Writer

Needless to say, “Black Panther” is shaping up to be one of the highest, if not the highest, grossing films of the year.  

Both critics and audiences love it, and it has done what Wonder Woman did last year, but even more effectively: it has shown that superheroes are not just white men. “Black Panther” is helping to diversify a genre and franchise that has all but completely taken over the box office.  

The most attention has tended to be focused on the wonderful things that “Black Panther” does for representation of African Americans in the superhero genre, and rightfully so.  

With a main cast composed almost exclusively of black characters, “Black Panther” allows for a level of representation rarely seen in a blockbuster film. It deserves as much credit as it is getting for that. 

However, not as much attention has been drawn to the fact that this film is remarkably feminist. The majority of the supporting cast is made up of women, and they are predominantly the ones fighting alongside T’Challa.  

While it would have been easy – and even expected – to make T’Challa’s best friend, W’Kabi, be at his right hand, it is instead two women, Okoye and Nakia, who take the reins. Actually, they seem to have just as many fight scenes as Black Panther himself. 

Then there is Shuri, who is, as far as everyone I’ve talked to is concerned, the best character of the movie. She’s a young genius, the head of technology in the hyper-advanced Wakanda, and next in line for the throne after T’Challa. Her inventions are what save the day time and time again. 

The interesting thing about the women in this film is that they could have very easily fallen prey to what most women in films do: not having a purpose outside of the main male character.  

Naturally, they all have a relationship with him. Shuri is his sister, Nakia is his ex-girlfriend, and Okoye is the head of military forces in Wakanda.  

As this is his movie, most of their discussions and actions are centered around T’Challa. However, they are all strong and independent characters in their own right.  

They have distinguishable personalities, goals and values. The viewer gets the sense that, even without T’Challa, these women would be just fine. Their stories and lives are not dependent on the men of the story; they exist beside them, as fully formed people.  

This kind of feminism isn’t the in-your-face kind that we saw with Wonder Woman, which was essentially marketed as a feminist film. Yes, there were women fighting and being physically strong, but it was more than that. It offered real women, who know and love men, but who have their own priorities. Who are allowed to simply exist as people beyond their relationship to men.  

It is rare to see female side characters be just as compelling and rich, if not more so, than the men in the movie. With “Black Panther” crossing the $1 billion mark at the box office in its first month, I hope that Marvel – as well as other movie studios, like Warner Brothers (responsible for DC movies) – are taking note.  

“Black Panther” beautifully balances a steady pace with well-developed characters, and I only hope that these characters stay just as strong in the films to come.  

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Broadway struggles with accessibility

By Samantha Anteau

Staff Writer

In the past decade, as a result of the rise of the internet and a new resurgence in the popularity of musical theater, bootleg videos of Broadway productions have become a point of contention for many creators and fans.  

Some creators and actors, such as Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, are vehemently against bootlegged videos. Opinions of why people shouldn’t bootleg vary, but much of it is about supporting artists or preserving the art in its intended form.  

I have always been in support of more accessible Broadway shows. There is very little chance that I will ever be able to go see a Broadway show; New York City is unbelievably expensive without the added expense of theater tickets.  

And with tickets that are still ridiculously expensive outside of New York, when shows go on tour, many people will never be able to see the shows at all. 

Theatre is a unique medium. With movies and television, there exist consistent forms. You watch The Avengers, and you’re going to get the same film, with the same actors. It doesn’t change and never will.  

Additionally, there are many ways to get it legally; if you don’t have the money to go see it in theaters, you can wait until it’s at your library, where you can get the content for free. It is the same exact content as everyone who was able to pay for it received. 

For obvious reasons, it isn’t the same for Broadway. I’m never going to see the original cast of Hamilton perform, because I didn’t live in New York and I wasn’t wealthy enough to get there (or get tickets to the show). The show will never exist in that form again; once it’s done, it’s done.  

If I do see Hamilton eventually, it won’t be the same show. Imagine the original cast of the Avengers playing their characters in the film version, but if you rented the movie later, the cast was completely different.  

Regardless of whether they are better or worse, it doesn’t matter. The movie is different because you no longer have Robert Downey Jr or Chris Evans. You get different content.  

Do I believe those in theater should be paid for their work? Of course I do. But the type of people who watch Broadway bootlegs are not the type of people who would watch them if they were financially able to go see the actual show.  

I feel pretty comfortable in guessing that no one has ever said, “Well, I’m definitely able to go see that show, but I’ve already seen a grainy, 480p video of it, so what’s the point?” If you’re going to scour the internet for bootlegs of your favorite show, you’re not going to turn away from the chance to watch it live. That’s not the theater kid way. 

A couple of shows have taken the initiative to be more inclusive and offer video recordings of their shows. Most recently, the show Falsettos released their recording in select theaters, and I went twice.  

I could shell out $16 for two movie tickets, so I did. I would do the same for any show that released a filmed version of their stage production, because I want to see the shows legally. I want to be able to share the things that so many other people have gotten to enjoy. 

People who love theatre want to support it, but they also want to enjoy the content. I understand that part of the theatre experience is the temporal nature of it, but that also creates a barrier of entry for people who can’t afford it.  

Releasing more professional recordings of Broadway shows is a great way to begin to allow theatre to become a more inclusive place, as well as giving theatre fans a chance to support their favorite productions. 

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Superhero movies lack diversity

By Samantha Anteau

Staff Writer

When people think of superheroes, they often think of attractive white men saving the world. It’ll usually take a couple rounds of “name a superhero” before someone says a woman (though, admittedly, the “Wonder Woman” movie helped change this a little; more on that later) and even longer for them to get to a person of color, if they ever do.  

If we’re just going to look at blockbuster superhero movies, this is pretty intensely reinforced. In the first wave of blockbuster superhero movies, we got “Iron Man”, “Wolverine”, “Batman”, “Superman”, etc., all falling snugly into the category of “white men saving the world.”  

Were there female side characters? Did people of color occasionally make an appearance, including the rare woman of color? Of course. However, being a top-tier superhero tended to fall on the white, male characters.  

That’s not to say that those who create superhero movies don’t have a lot of sources to pull from. Though the comic book industry is notoriously male-centric and white, there are plenty of notable female superheroes and superheroes of color. There are already introduced characters to pick from, like Black Panther, Storm, Black Widow, Heimdall (Idris Elba edition), Jubilee or Falcon.  

There are also plenty of characters who haven’t appeared who would make great choices. John Stewart’s Green Lantern, America Chavez, Bishop, Danielle Moonstar. If you haven’t heard of them before, it really doesn’t matter; after all, who even knew that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” existed before the movie came out?  

Studio executives can’t say that movies featuring women and/or people of color in leading roles wouldn’t sell. “Wonder Woman” is the fifth highest grossing superhero film of all time, and the highest grossing film in the DCEU. “Black Panther” has the highest pre-release ticket sales of any superhero movie ever and is predicted to make at least $400 million at the box office.  

There simply is no excuse, monetary or otherwise, for these movies not to be made. Are the studios getting better about being inclusive? Yes, of course.  

Wonder Woman’s second film is in pre-production, “Black Panther” is coming out this week, and “Captain Marvel” is set to come out March of next year. But to have three out of thirty-nine solo superhero movies in the last ten years (including ones that are set to come out in the next two years) be centered on a woman or a person of color is absolutely abysmal.  

Honestly, I’ll just say it: I’m bored. I’m bored of the same generically good looking white actor playing some guy with a tortured background but the heart of a hero, I’m tired of women and POC having to play love interests and sidekicks to their white male counterparts.  

It physically exhausts me that Batman had twelve movies before Wonder Woman had even one, and that up until Wonder Woman, no female superhero ever had a solo film.  

People of color suffered the same fate, with the first superhero of color with a solo movie being the upcoming “Black Panther” while a white Spiderman got to be rebooted and told in virtually the same way three separate times. We need to do better.  

If this is something that you want to see as much as I do, encourage those you know to go see “Black Panther” or “Captain Marvel”, to tweet about how much they want to see more diversity in films.  

The only things that will ever be made are the things the studios think are going to sell, so support these movies in every way you can. Once we prove that this is the content we want to see, we can take a step forward towards a cinematic universe that offers more diversity than a bevy of white guys named Chris.   

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“American Crime Story” has strong characters, weak plot

By Sam Anteau

Staff Writer

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is the second season in the true crime anthology, “American Crime Story.” This season, as its title would suggest, is all about the murder of iconic fashion designer Gianni Versace by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.  

As of January 29th, the series will have featured its first two episodes. Judging by these episodes, the show has proven to be a bit of mixed bag. After starting off strong with the premiere, “The Man Who Would Be Vogue,” Versace peters off into a slower pace with “Manhunt.”  

That is not to say that the show isn’t worth watching. While the plot and writing lack in some places, it is extremely character driven and, as such, is led by some tremendously talented actors.  

Before I go further in my review, it is important to note that the accuracy of the show’s portrayal of the events on which it was based has no bearing on my opinions.  

As usual, I’m inclined to be skeptical of anything claiming to be based on a true story. Thus, I am viewing the series purely as a work of fiction, loosely based on true events and the rumors surrounding them. 



On paper, Versace’s storyline should be inherently compelling. And in the first episode, it is; working backwards, Versace starts with Cunanan murdering Versace and getting chased down by police. 

It is thrilling, and it gives us our first glimpse into the character who, really, tends to steal the spotlight: Andrew Cunanan. All of the scenes feel important in setting up characters and relationships, rather than superfluous to pad runtime.  

The second episode, “Manhunt,” does not boast the same strength in plot. There are scenes that feel incredibly out of place, like the spat between Gianni and Donatella before a fashion show.  

While it may give a deeper look at their relationship, what it does more successfully is bog down the story. This is not to say there aren’t great moments – one involving duct tape and the song “Easy Lover” (no spoilers) sticks out in particular – but aside from the momentary gems, the story suffers in the second episode. 

Another thing that has, thus far, weakened the plot in both episodes is the narrative being told in reverse chronological order. The show seems to jump between time period, managing to confuse the viewer about when a particular plot is taking place.  

It takes a couple of these jumps in time to actually get used to that aspect, though I found it just as jarring in the second episode. Instead of being a fresh and interesting way to tell a story, it mostly just confuses an already weak plot.  



The characters of Versace are where its heart is. The titular character, Gianni Versace, is extremely likable; passionate, earnest and kind, he offers a welcome softness in the face of Cunanan’s calculated charm.  

It is made abundantly clear from the first scene that Versace is friendly and, in turn, well loved. Warm exchanges between he and his house staff, as well as friends he sees on the street, give the impression of demeanor.  

Despite only knowing him for one scene, I felt effected and upset by his death at the beginning of the first episode. And the more scenes he has, the more upset I am by his death.  

Making less of an impression are Antonio D’Amico, Versace’s lover, and Donatella Versace, Gianni’s sister. Antonio grows more compelling as the story continues, but what makes him interesting is his relationship to Versace. Donatella suffers the same fate.  

While they both have some beautifully emotional moments, their primary objective is to be Gianni’s lover and Gianni’s sister, respectively. That said, they are fairly strong supporting characters, given the roles to which they’ve been relegated. 

The true star of the show is Cunanan. He is a complex character, to say the least; a compulsive liar and performative conversationalist, we get the immediate feeling that we can’t believe anything he says. His obsession with notoriety is clear in the way that he talks about Versace, as well as the way he repeatedly constructs a false narrative of his life. We see him as a social chameleon that never settles on a true identity.  

His ability to manipulate those around him is as impressive as it is chilling. I often find myself almost rooting for him, despite knowing that he murdered five men. That’s the mark of a good villain. 



All that said, notable characters would be nothing without their actors. Édgar Ramírez’s easy charm makes Versace’s warmth all the more believable.  

It’s difficult to make viewers feel something for the death of a character we just met, but after watching Ramírez’s Versace effortlessly glide throughout his day, we become attached rather quickly. His later, more emotional appearances only endear us to him more.  

Ricky Martin’s portrayal of Antonio is just as strong. Though Martin doesn’t have a lot to work with in terms of his character – who, compared to Gianni and Andrew, is not particularly fleshed out as of this point – he does the best with what he’s given.  

A scene that really shows off his acting chops is when Antonio is being questioned (rather insensitively) by the police. His defense of his relationship with Versace and his clear grief as he was questioned, still in his bloodstained clothes, were enough to choke me up. 

Penelope Cruz absolutely kills it as Donatella Versace. She delivers such depth and emotion that Donatella becomes noteworthy; if Cruz did not play her so excellently, I am sure she would seem almost like an afterthought, which is a tragedy considering the importance of Donatella in her brother’s life. 

Though I’m breaking my own rules by mentioning the actual person on which this character is based, I would be doing a disservice to Cruz by not mentioning that she nails Donatella’s voice. As someone familiar with Donatella, I was shocked at how similar Cruz managed to make her voice sound to Donatella’s very specific rasp. 

Finally, just as Cunanan steals the show, so does his actor, Darren Criss. Considering I’ve been a pretty big fan of Criss’ going on nine years, I had to ask for a second and third opinion on whether he is actually as incredible in Versace as I think he is to make sure I wasn’t being too biased. Judging by my very small sample size, the consensus is yes.  

Criss as Cunanan is delightfully unhinged without becoming a caricature, which is especially difficult when playing a performative character like Cunanan; too heavy handed, and he becomes unconvincing as a character, but too subtle and we completely lose the over-the-top nature crucial to his character.  

A particularly impressive moment was when, following the murder of Versace, Cunanan runs to his truck and starts laughing uncontrollably. This could have been done so poorly – potentially coming off like a bad Joker impression – but Criss pulls it off without a hitch. I really can’t wait to see what he does with the rest of this season.  


Overall Experience 

So, leaving my ability to be somewhat objective behind for a moment, I’ll say that I love this show. I have a lot of very specific niches, and one of them is celebrity true crime. That, with the addition of Darren Criss, fashion and LGBT representation, is enough to have me hooked.  

However, I will say that if you watch this and don’t find yourself immediately engaged by the characters, you likely aren’t going to be into this show. The characters are what make “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” worth sticking around for, while the plot falls secondary. Either way, it’s definitely worth spending the hour to give it a shot. 

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