The cast and creative team behind the Showtime series “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” discussed the impact that multi-level marketing schemes during a panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Friday.
Set in a small Orlando-adjacent town in 1992, the series follows Krystal Stubbs (Dunst), a minimum-wage water park employee who lies, schemes and cons her way up the ranks of Founders American Merchandise (FAM) — the cultish, flag-waving, multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme that drove her to ruin in the first place, run by the powerful Obie Garbeau II (Ted Levine).
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“These kinds of schemes are all about people being asked to monetize their relationships,” showrunner Esta Spalding said. “What’s heartbreaking is not only the debt and the loss…The losses become familial as well.”
“Everyone on this show wants something more in their life but there is no way they could do that making minimum wage in 1992,” she continued. “People are trying to be happy in their daily lives and being preyed upon.”
It was announced in June that Showtime had acquired the series from YouTube, who had previously acquired the show from AMC.
In addition to Dunst and Levine, the series stars Théodore Pellerin, Beth Ditto, and Mel Rodriguez. The cast also includes Usman Ally, Julie Benz, Melissa De Sousa, John Earl Jelks, Sharon Lawrence, Josh Fadem, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Alexander Skarsgård, and Mary Steenburgen.
Robert Funke and Matt Lutsky created and executive produce the series. George Clooney and Grant Heslov also executive produce under their Smokehouse Pictures banner along with Dunst, Charlie McDowell, and Esta Spalding. Spalding also serves as showrunner while McDowell directed the pilot. Sony’s TriStar TV will produce.