Obie Garbeau From 'On Becoming A God In Central Florida' Isn't Based On A Real Person & But His Scam Definitely Is
If there is one character that can make a reasonable claim to being a "god" in the pilot episode of Showtime's On Becoming A God In Central Florida, it's Obie Garbeau II, the CEO of Founders American Merchandise. Obie is a towering figure, first introduced flying into a funeral via helicopter and high-fiving everyone in attendance, and responsible for seducing people like Travis Stubbs (Alexander Skarsgård) into chasing the American Dream. If Garbeau seems larger-than-life, it's because he's simply too large of a personality to really exist. The Garbeau Method is not real, nor is Obie Garbeau II himself, but he shares some similarities with some very real people.
As the head of a multi-level marketing company, part of Garbeau's job isn't just managing the company but inspiring others to sell his product for him, urging them on with the hopes that selling his product will, in turn, turn a profit for him. He's a flashier version of business figures like Mark Hughes of Herbalife or DeAnne Brady Stidham of LuLaRoe, but distinguishes himself with a bushy handlebar mustache, a cross around his neck, and a Colonel Sanders-esque haircut.
Obie's audacious facial hair and distinctive look distracts from his face, which probably bodes well from fans watching On Becoming A God from making a connection between the '92-set series and the fact that the actor who plays Obie played one of the most memorable movie villains of the early '90s.
Obie is brought to life by Ted Levine, a longtime character actor who has made a name for himself by playing all manner of gruffy individuals. Levine's roles include the menacing warden in Shutter Island, Big Bob in The Hills Have Eyes, and the ever-cranky Leland Stottlemeyer on Monk, but in 1991 he played one of the villains in one of the most beloved movies of all time, a role that is very very far away from Obie Gerbeau — Buffalo Bill in The Silence Of The Lambs.
Buffalo Bill may not have been the primary villainous figure in Silence Of The Lambs — that honor goes to Anthony Hopkins' iconic performance as Hannibal Lector — but Levine's performance has been etched into pop culture history through references to putting lotion in baskets and the song "Goodbye Horses" in other media. The slimy serial killer is a far cry from Obie, a man of the utmost composure and power — but it is fun to watch him play it.
Obie Garbeau may not be based on any person in particular, but Levine's transformation — physical and otherwise — into the self-proclaimed business guru is bursting with charisma to a frightening degree. It's not hard to imagine how someone like Travis could end up in the thrall of a man who looks, sounds, and acts like he has all the answers to life and success. Garbeau isn't real — and given the consequences that his existence has for Travis and his family, it's probably for the best that he's a fictional character.