Multi-hyphenate talent Beth Ditto makes a bold, strange move for her acting career in the new Showtime series, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.” Set in 1992 near Orlando, Fla., Kirsten Dunst stars as Krystal Stubbs, an ambitious water park employee who gets embroiled in an insidious pyramid scheme. Ditto plays Bets, the wife of Stubbs’ employer and a cautious voice of reason against Founders American Franchise, the multi-level marketing outfit seeking wealth and power at all costs.
“Set in a small Orlando-adjacent town in 1992, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” 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). Determined to make a better life for herself, Krystal dives deep into FAM and develops a tangled relationship with FAM’s most loyal and fanatical follower Cody ([Théodore] Pellerin), until her business begins to affect those closest to her, including Ernie ([Mel] Rodriguez), her affable water park boss, and his FAM-skeptic wife Bets (Ditto).”
The trailer, though brief, manages to pack in bizarre visuals and close-ups that feel almost Lynchian in their unflinching depictions of the nastiest of emotions: rage, greed, desperation, and sweaty, humid fear. Don’t let the thumbnail fool you — this show feels like it will be more of an examination of the depravity of the human condition than a poolside romp.
Originally in development at AMC, the show was slated to run as one of YouTube Premium’s scripted series before it was acquired by Showtime. A couple faces to look out for in the show that aren’t featured in the trailer include Alexander Skarsgård — who is currently reigniting our collective fear of clowns as the new iteration of Pennywise in the rebooted “IT” franchise — and Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen.
The nine-episode first season premieres on Aug. 25 at 9 p.m. CST on Showtime.
Showtime has released a new teaser trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.” The trailer is titled “The Pelican” — you’ll see why shortly — and features a fleeting glance of Beth Ditto, all done up and looking wary, among the montage of chaos in the 30 second clip.
This trailer also offers a better look at Ditto’s co-star Ted Levine, who’s come a long way from his nightmarish role as Buffalo Bill in “The Silence of the Lambs” to play a different kind of villain. Levine stars as Obie Dalton II, head of the Founders American Franchise, and this clip shows the kingpin in all of his ring-clad, feverishly manipulative glory. Dalton’s white suit, coiffed white hair and bushy mustache give off serious Colonel Sanders vibes, which might be an intentional nod to a real-life patriarch of Southern industry. Either way, Levine’s performance feels like another compelling reason to watch the show when it debuts on August 25.