On Becoming a God in Central Florida: American Merchandise
September 24, 2019 11:41 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Krystal rubs elbows with the upper crust. Cody makes a surprising business proposal. Ernie finds his rhythm as a recruiter and celebrates with pizza. Dreams are realized, and dreams are shattered.
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This was perhaps the darkest episode so far, but it definitely is pointing towards an interesting turn in the plot.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:42 AM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really enjoy this show a lot, but wow was this episode very hard to watch. I hope for more Mary Steenburgen though.
posted by jeather at 4:22 PM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ernie's near-break was amazing and brutal, and I was afraid for Krystal, especially after trying to talk the gun-man down, only to have random gun-toter shoot him and demand that everyone cheer for him like a hero.

As hard as this episode was to watch, it also made the show a lot more complex. Krystal turns against FAM, while Mirta has (possibly) hit rock bottom, only to be handed a huge story. And Cody ... I don't even know where he's going (his father in jail, yet refusing to talk to him, while his mother telling him that his crush/love is the kind of lady you rent, not buy, while at a Republican fundraiser no less). With only four episodes to go, I'm wondering if they'll be wrapping up story lines (or at least tying them in a bow, with the potential to become untied) in the next four episodes.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:43 PM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I could watch this every day for the rest of my life. I'm so sad there's only four eps left!

Seeing Ernie come (thisclose) to saving the gun guy and failing was the most brutal thing. Then to see him lose his shit at Krystal, and she instantly recognizes his rant as something she's at least screamed at someone she loves in her own head before. WOW. She knows there's nothing left to say. These are two good people, who had a profoundly shitty day, and it was almost one of the best days of each of their lives... only to be undercut at the last second by someone who has no faith in them or understands what they're capable of accomplishing.

Bets, you got some work to do, honey. Ernie is on the precipice. He needs a loving wife to talk him off that ledge, like he almost managed to do for a stranger today. :(

I appreciate that she probably is going to burn FAM to the ground only to save Ernie. She knows it's too dangerous to try and talk him into quitting now. He's put all his eggs in the FAM basket. Krystal's only move now is... unweave that basket. Preferably on live TV.

It better rain Emmys on this show next year. Between the writing, acting and costume design, it's just *chef's kiss* perfect.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, I just have to say this. Ernie is like Mr. Rogers. He's the kind of really good man that makes you believe if he's a Republican, then they're not all bad. He's the guy who invites you to church, and you can instantly tell he's there for all the right reasons. And maybe you start going, because hey, it's Ernie's church! Maybe it can be my church, too.

When he started tearing up trying to talk the robber into putting down his rifle, I saw him reaching out to someone who needs Christ's love to guide him down a different path. Ernie was willing to die, if that's what it took, to redeem someone who desperately needed his help.

And in a way, that's how he's approaching the FAM life, too. As a former Evangelical, it hit a lot of those familiar notes with me. Even the tone of voice Ernie used made me recall all the people who speak about re-dedicating their lives to Christ and being Born Again.

I also laughed, hard, as soon as I saw him playing the bell in church during the last episode. Because of COURSE Ernie does that! Of COURSE he's in chorale, or whatever his church calls it.

He's the de facto example of a Good Man. Except it's obvious that Ernie doesn't feel that way about himself, no matter how many Good Guy hobbies or beliefs or slogans he shrouds himself in. He's suffering from Imposter Syndrome, and possibly some clinical depression. Ernie needs therapy, and I'm scared we might lose him if he doesn't get the support he needs for his own mental health.

There are so few truly genuinely, unambiguously Good Men on TV anymore. I really don't know if my heart can handle watching this one fall apart, or worse, lose everything he has just because he tried to do the right thing. He thought following Krystal into FAM was the right thing, because she's his friend and neighbor. She wouldn't lie to him, right? But she kind of did, and now she has to try and save him from the consequences of putting his trust in her.

Ernie always tries to do the right thing, and his losing streak needs to end before this season does.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

This show is amazing when it comes to messing with what you want for the characters. When Krystal recruited Ernie, and Ernie recruited 51 more people in the downline, you were happy for Krystal! And for Ernie! And one second later you realize, oh no, this is bad, it's all bad.

I don't know how many seasons the creators of this show have in mind, but I can't wait to see Krystal take down FAM, as long as Ernie and all the people he's recruited don't become collateral damage. If that could possibly be the case.

The cast of this show is wonderful. I've never seen Kirsten Dunst embody a character so well, and she was already amazing in Interview With A Vampire when she was zero years old. Mel Rodriguez is always incredible, and here he gets to play in a much wider range than usual. The scene with the robbery was heartbreaking thanks to him. Ted Levine and Sharon Lawrence are deliciously oily as the people at the center of the scam. The guy who plays Cody (sorry, can't remember his name right now) does an amazing job of balancing neediness with unearned confidence.
posted by ejs at 10:18 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I can't wait to see Krystal take down FAM, as long as Ernie and all the people he's recruited don't become collateral damage.

The problem with MLMs is that they're already damaged, especially the community that Ernie is "preaching" to - they don't have the spare money to invest in something like this, just like Krystal and her husband Travis. Remember that Travis bought all that merch and stored it with Mimi Waldenstock? To the point that some of the boxes had turned green with moss and/or mold?

But it's not just the working poor - Carroll quit his dental practice, which he started in his 20s, and now he and Carol are taking out a second mortgage, not making six figures as promised.

In other words, people are already damaged, but the keep lying to themselves and others that they'll be successful, or area successful, with FAM.

Burn it all down, and start rebuilding lives.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:45 AM on October 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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