Made for streaming, her satire ends up on Showtime
Kirsten Dunst has a soft spot for satire.
The actress has proven it in projects from the movie “Drop Dead Gorgeous” to the second season of the series “Fargo.” She tackles the genre again – as both the star and (along with fellow “ER” alum George Clooney and others) an executive producer — as a revenge-minded crusader against a pyramid marketing scheme that costs her a lot in the early 1990s in “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” initially made for YouTube Red but with Showtime debuting it instead on Sunday, Aug. 25.
“Mostly, I always look for (a desired) director or things that I would want to see or characters I’d like to play,” Dunst explains. “and I have to say this material was just so special to me. It’s been three years now, and we’ve really had a little bit of a roller coaster of how this show actually got made to now being at Showtime.”
The series’ Founders American Merchandise – or FAM, to make the acronym clear – is fictional, but actual operations have shared its personalized approach that Dunst’s character Krystal Stubbs comes to oppose with fury. “I wasn’t totally familiar with that kind of multilevel marketing scheme,” Dunst says, “but I was more familiar with cults and that kind of thing, which I think this is comparable to.”
Co-star Mel Rodriguez (“The Last Man on Earth”), who plays Krystal’s boss at a water park, has had experience with such situations. “My mother was in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Amway started,” he notes, “and she almost got into it and regrets the day that she didn’t, because she would have been really wealthy now.
“Later on, my poor mom got involved with an oil company, and she called me and told me all the benefits of this oil. She kept saying, ‘They’re pharmaceutical grade, honey.’ That was the big thing. And we ended up having to buy (it) all off of her, all the kids. And it was really awful, because it took advantage of this older woman who really didn’t know any better. She spent money she didn’t have, a little over $1500.”
Adds executive producer Esta Spalding, “Everyone on the show wants something more for their life, and there’s no way they can get that working for minimum wage in 1992. That’s when Americans were really betrayed; the working class couldn’t earn a living that they could sustain and feed their families with, so they’re all reaching for something else, and the (FAM) scheme moves into that. This show really lives in the world of people just trying to be happy in their daily lives, and they’re being preyed on.”