The Real-Life Tragedy In ‘American Crime Story’ Season 3 Is SO Different From The First Two

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With The Assassination Of Gianni Versace racing to its tragic climax in its March 21 final episode, fans may be curious what to look forward to next from Ryan Murphy's criminally terrific anthology series. What is American Crime Story Season 3 about? Which high-profile crime — and its ensuing well-publicized trial and/or manhunt that followed — will the show tackle next?

Fans expecting a dramatization of another familiar and grisly tale of murder and mayhem — like the Charles Manson killings or the Amanda Knox case or something along those lines — may find themselves surprised by the turn American Crime Story takes going into its third iteration. While Seasons 1 and 2 did both focus on wrongful deaths, the word "murder" isn't actually in the title of the anthology at all. The word "crime" obviously covers much more than that… and the next two seasons of Murphy's show look to be moving away from the first two.

Viewers may already be familiar with Murphy's plans for the next installment, given that it was originally supposed to serve as the show's second season after The People v. O.J. Simpson, until it got delayed and pushed after Versace, according to Variety. Murphy's plans were that the still-untitled third season would focus on the city of New Orleans during and after the events of Hurricane Katrina, per a different Variety article from August 2017.

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If you think that sounds more like a season of American Natural Disaster Story than American Crime Story, well… just wait until you see what Murphy is cooking up. Originally envisioned as a sweeping critique of the government's handling of the crisis — in which 1,833 people lost their lives, per CNN — Murphy had cast big names and Oscar nominees like Dennis Quaid, Matthew Broderick, and Annette Bening as President George W. Bush, FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, respectively, as reported by Vanity Fair. But that was before a major creative overhaul that led to the season's delay and the loss of those high-profile cast members, as Murphy reimagined the season to focus more tightly around a specific crime that took place while the disaster struck.

Variety reported that Season 3 will now be based on the 2013 non-fiction book Five Days At Memorial: Life And Death In A Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter Sheri Fink. The book details the conditions at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during the storm and the tragic sequence of events that led doctors to the decision to euthanize dozens of critically ill patients. After winning an Emmy for playing Marcia Clark in Season 1, The People v. O.J. Simpson, Murphy-verse veteran Sarah Paulson will return to American Crime Story to portray Dr. Anna Pou, the main subject of Five Days At Memorial.

If that's not enough to look forward to, Murphy has also already announced what the fourth season of the anthology will be about, according to Deadline: the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. And though that concept may sound like it could potentially be a retread of an event that many people remember well, consider that some people felt similar about Season 1 before its debut. And somehow, American Crime Story painted a fresh and vital portrait of the O.J. Simpson trial. There's plenty of reason to expect the same new perspective from Season 4, including its source material. Deadline also reported that Season 4 will be based on the 1999 non-fiction book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story Of The Sex Scandal That Almost Brought Down A President by author Jeffrey Toobin — the same author who wrote the book that served as the inspiration for Season 1.

However, in January 2018, FX president John Landgraf indicated at the network's Television Critics Association panel that the Katrina and Lewinsky stories are not as locked down as they seem, according to TV Guide. He said that he hadn't seen a script for either proposed season. "I couldn't tell you after [The Assassination of Gianni Versace] what the next installment of American Crime Story will be," he said. "It might be Katrina, it might be something else. I can just tell you there will be one."

Still, those two potential seasons should give fans plenty of juicy stuff to look forward to even as Versace concludes. There are still countless crimes for Murphy and his collaborators to reexamine.