• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

10 Crime Scandals Worthy Of An “American Crime Story,” From Balloon Boy To Tonya Harding

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jun 26, 2022

With its first three seasons in support, the crime scandals chosen for dramatization in FX’s American crime history seem to follow some common guidelines. While each episode of the anthology series deals with a separate crime case (alongside a new cast and source material), showrunner Ryan Murphy seems most intrigued by those crimes that are tabloid-friendly, salacious and representative of a particular era.



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American crime historyThe first season of covered the 1994 trial of OJ Simpsonwhile subsequent seasons adapted the murder of Gianni Versace and the extramarital affair between bill clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Each bound by their ’90s setting and subject to an ensuing media circus, these scandals set the tone for future Murphy episodes and often recast much-maligned cultural figures, from Lewinsky to Simpson’s prosecutor. Marcia Clarke. It is reported that the next seasons of American crime history will respectively cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the questionable actions of the founders of Studio 54 Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Here are ten other criminal scandals worth dramatizing for History of American Crime.


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Watergate scandal

Although we have seen iterations of the President Richard Nixonbefore the Watergate scandal of 1972 (particularly in All the President’s Men, The Post and the most recent gas lit), these adaptations lack the pulpy flair that Murphy might bring to the case. From its distinct ’70s aesthetic to sensational crime tangents (a sloppy cover-up and wiretaps included), the Watergate Scandal taps into Murphy’s strengths in style and substance.

In the same way as the previous ACS seasons, the fiasco also has contemporary relevance, tackling issues of abuse of political power, with a potentially stellar monologue to be taken from Nixon’s 1974 resignation speech.

The JFK Assassination

Purely stylistically, the Kennedys – a longtime accolade as America’s hottest first family – offer all the trappings of a Murphy affair, with plenty of period detail from the 1960s. 60. The media’s obsession with John F Kennedy is an aspect of his presidency that has been largely overlooked in previous adaptations as JKF and Jacky, and yet it is the one that Murphy is best placed to tackle.

In line with her reworking of misunderstood women, Murphy might emphasize the importance of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with a potential Marilyn Monroe cameo to boot. Murphy’s exploration of conspiracy theories surrounding a given case was exposed in The People vs. OJ Simpson, and that could also apply to the alleged Mafia and CIA involvement in JFK’s death.

balloon boy prank

Although a lesser-known crime, the Balloon Boy prank is replete with Murphy-isms, a tabloid affair that later launched a reality TV and music career for the parties involved. In 2009, the Heene family claimed that one of their sons had, in an experiment gone wrong, been trapped in a large helium flying saucer about 7,000 feet above the ground.

When authorities later found the boy hiding in the family’s attic, a media circus ensued as the general public raised suspicions about the story’s validity. After a disastrous appearance on Larry King Livein which the son admitted he “did it for the show”, the Heene parents were found guilty of misdemeanors and felonies, all part of a plan supposed to increase their notoriety for future prospects reality TV.


Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan

Alignment with the AEC’s current sets from the 90s and filled with potentially dazzling costume designs, the onslaught of Nancy Kerrigan (and the alleged and disputed involvement of a rival Tonya Smith) in the run up to the Winter Olympics wrote Murphy all over.

While the public was treated to a dramatization of the affair in Me Tonya the complexity of the stranger-than-fiction story could warrant a lengthy run-and-run streak, from hiring hitmen to Harding’s rocky relationship with her husband. A new iteration of Crime could also further explore Kerrigan, who was largely left out of Margot Robbie’s adaptation.

College admissions scandal

Occupying the intersection of celebrity, class, and Ivy League business, the college admissions scandal of 2019 is a worthy, albeit recent, potential addition to the ACS cannon. The season could explore both the police operation that uncovered the scandal, codenamed “Operation Varsity Blues”, and dramatize the motivations of those involved (which included actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffmanamong others).

Holding contemporary relevance in its exposure of the broken university system, as well as the wealthy people who benefit from it, the admissions scandal could also explain Murphy’s penchant for social commentary.

John Lennon’s Murder

Although the victim himself was born in the UK, the assassination of the leader of the Beatles John Lennon was distinctly American in his display of super fandom gone wrong. The subtle details of the case – which happened on the steps of Lennon’s New York apartment in 1980 – are fascinating, from the stalking of Lennon and his wife for months to his obsession with the novel. Receiver in The Rye.

It was also reported that the murderer, Marc Chapmanconspired to kill other 80s legends like Johnny Carson, Paul McCartney and Elizabeth Taylor. More broadly, Murphy was able to glean ample insight into the period of the case, particularly the rise of secularism given that it was Lennon’s controversial comment that his band was “more popular than Jesus” that motivated Chapman’s scheme.


Elizabeth Holmes

Provide an opportunity to comment on Silicon Valley’s white-collar crimes, Elizabeth HolmesThe much-hyped role as CEO of the now-defunct Theranos captivated the world in 2015. Murphy was able to trace Holmes’ rise through the corporate hierarchy before chronicling his fraudulent aspirations for a blood test product that did not exist.

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However, the recent adoption of the saga, The stallas well as reports of an upcoming feature film iteration starring Jennifer Lawrence, may reduce this case’s chances of earning extra screen time.

The AIDS crisis

While there’s no overt “crime” to report in the ’80s AIDS crisis, this portrayal might align with that of the upcoming season. Katherine in that it was the government’s mishandling of the situation that constituted criminal activity.

Murphy previously addressed AIDS in 2014 normal heart, but this iteration could look more closely at the political dimensions of the crisis. The season could also draw parallels to the still-unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, while re-examining the homophobia that allowed government inaction for years and caused thousands of deaths over the decade.

princess diana

The tumultuous relationship between princess diana and Prince Charles was previously reported to be the subject of a separate Murphy franchise, Quarrel, marking the second season of the series after its first release covered the animosity between the actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

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However, the second season has since shifted focus and criminal activity has been uncovered around the 80s royal wedding, particularly in relation to Diana’s infamous interview with Martin Bashir. Bashir’s alleged unethical sourcing of the interview, as well as the wider role the UK media played in Diana’s death, exposes a dodgy underside around the case ripe for Murphy’s picking. .


Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo

Although a more recent (and still ongoing) case, the crimes of mega-producer Harvey Weinstein were outrageous enough to start a cultural movement and speak to the heart of Murphy’s affinity for Hollywood glamour. become a criminal.

Previous movies like Bombhave made their way into the chronicle of the movement, but the full depth of Weinstein’s years of abuse and the powerful position from which he wielded it has yet to reach the big screen. The case is as high-profile as Murphy could be, though it remains to be seen if Hollywood itself would be receptive to such a portrayal.

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