Florida, 1992. Krystal Stubbs (Kirsten Dunst) is an ex-local beauty queen turned water park employee with a newborn daughter. Her husband Travis (Alexander Skarsgård) is a low-level distributor in a multi-level-marketing company called Founders American Merchandising (FAM), and remains devoted to the teachings of its founder, Obie Garbeau II (Ted Levine), despite repeatedly taking financial losses thanks to the company. When the family falls on hard times and FAM refuses to bail them out despite their loyal service, Krystal hatches a plan to scam the scammers.
This series proves examples of:
- Anyone Can Die: Travis in the pilot and Roger in the penultimate episode of Season 1.
- Attention Whore: Cody seems to be motivated by attention.
- Bait-and-Switch: We are led to believe that Travis is about to drown when he falls asleep at the wheel again and crashes his car into a river. He emerges from the car unscathed... only to be eaten moments later by an alligator.
- It's later established that Obie has potentially deadly heart problems, and his collapse in the middle of the FAM telethon after learning about Roger's death is teased as a fatal heart attack. It turns out to be a simple panic attack which he survives.
- Cult: FAM exhibits elements of cultish thinking, especially in how they revere Obie, pressure people into finding new recruits or following the company's rules, and how they label skeptics as "stinker-thinkers." Made more obvious in a sequence when Obie summons Cody in the middle of the night to question the latter's loyalty.
- Creepy Monotone: Roger Penland
- Does Not Like Shoes: Roger Penland goes around dressed in a suit and tie... and no shoes.
- Evil Is Petty: Buzz turns Krystal in to the cops for gator poaching after she outs him as a sexual extortionist in front of his teenage daughter.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Obie Garbeau, the head of a shady multi-level marketing company, thanks to being played by Ted Levine.
- Fandom Rivalry: In-Universe. FAM is actually divided between Obie and co-founder Buck Bridges, and the two competing factions hate each other's guts for perceived deviations from the FAM method. It's so intense that Cody and a follower of Bridges, Pat Stanley, get into a physical brawl.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": Obie quickly turns Travis's funeral into just another pep talk for FAM, going so far as to theatrically rattle the casket, which upsets Krystal's baby and causes Krystal to leave.
- Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: FAM, as multi-level marketing companies tend to be. Travis devotes his life to FAM because he thinks following Obie Garbeau's teachings will make him and Krystal rich, even though he has nothing to financially show for it despite slaving for the company for two years.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: How Roger Penland bites it, thanks to Cody's carelessness.
- The '90s: Specifically, 1992.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Obie Garbeau II and Founders American Merchandising show clear similarities with Glenn W. Turner and his MLM company, Koscot Interplanetary, which were active in Florida in the 1970s and '80s.
- Telethon: The last two episodes of Season 1 take place during the 37th Annual "Wham Bam Thank You FAM" Telethon.
- Unintentional Final Message: In episode 2, Krystal finds the voicemail message her husband sent to her shortly before he died, apologizing for quitting his job but excitedly telling her how great things will be from now on when he'll be able to devote himself to FAM full-time. Though she'd kept herself together up until this point, hearing him speak so happily - and knowing that FAM was the reason why he died - causes her to burst into tears.
- Women Are Wiser: Krystal and Bets can see how FAM is just an exploitative scheme while Travis, Cody and Ernie blindly believe in FAM and refuse to see the truth.