Kirsten Dunst stars in Showtime’s On Becoming a God In Central Florida, her latest foray into television, and gives a career-topping performance.
I have never been a huge fan of Kirsten Dunst. To me, there was always something about her film performances that reeked of trying too hard. With the notable exception of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she often appeared to me to struggle to find the right role. She never truly fit into any one mold, and those films that best used her off-center qualities (Dick comes to mind) were really few and far between.
It wasn’t until she started growing her career in television that, to me, she finally seemed to find roles that truly fit her. Fargo Season 2 was something of a revelation for her, giving her the opportunity to play a morally complicated character in Peggy Blumquist. Now, she’s found perhaps the most impactful role of her long career in Showtime’s On Becoming a God In Central Florida. Here, she plays Krystal Stubbs, a woman whose life becomes entangled in FAM, a multi-level marketing business. It’s a role that Dunst may have been born to play. One that deftly underscores her inherent, can-do Americana nature with a dark and callous desperation. It echoes her work in Fargo, but here, she’s the main focus – the anti-hero – and she soars in the role. Matching Dunst’s wild brilliance is Theodore Pellerin (Boy Erased) as Stubbs’ FAM mentor and wannabe lover.
As a series itself, Central Florida goes equally dark, fast. It introduces the world of Stubbs and her husband, Travis (the hilarious Alexander Skarsgard), and very quickly destroys it. The series captivates in equal parts outlandish weirdness and heart-breaking pathos. It takes time to explore the inner-workings of the multi-level marketing world and its impact on those desperate for its much-promised success. By the end of episode four, it’s clear that Central Florida is prepared to go into some very dark and lurid territory. It goes even farther when as it explores FAM’s own god, Obie Garbeau II (Ted Levine). However, a wildly inconsistent finale stretches the series about 2 episodes too far – keeping a good show from becoming a great one.
The best awards chances for Dunst likely lives at the Golden Globes. Showtime has a knack for getting Globe love. In the Comedy Actress category alone, they’ve recognized Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Toni Collette (United States of Tara), Laura Linney (The Big C), and Frankie Shaw (SMILF). A nod for Dunst would be only her third nomination in her career, but it feels like a strong possibility. A nomination here would be the necessary step toward carrying her through the rest of a very long Emmy year ahead. Other nominations for the series, however deserved they may be, are likely the longest of shots.
Kirsten Dunst, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Theodore Pellerin, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Ted Levine, Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
On Becoming a God In Central Florida airs Sunday nights at 10 pm ET on Showtime.