Last night the pilot of Snowfall, John Singleton's new drama out from FX, played for a full house at Austin's Paramount theater. Snowfall offers a new perspective on the rise of crack cocaine in Los Angeles in the early '80s. Actually, it's probably more appropriate to say the pilot offers several perspectives. Snowfall has a series of threads it follows to paint the bigger picture for the changing climate in 1983's South Central L.A.:
First, we have the East L.A. crime family and their internal power struggles. This is one perspective on the drug trade we've all seen before, most recently in Netflix's Narcos, along with Traffic, Scarface and plenty others for a meatier take on this story. Where Snowfall sets itself apart, however, is in doing what Singleton does best: showing the effects of crack (both selling and smoking) on the people of South Central Los Angeles. The crux of the whole show rests on the shoulders of Franklin Saint, played by Damson Idris, who is perfectly cast in the role. This storyline in particular is given real depth in the pilot.
In the beginning of the pilot, Franklin is selling marijuana for his uncle. (Don't tell his mom, though. She thinks he's a cashier.) He tried college but it didn't take, and it's clear that his ambitions are larger than that of a small time weed dealer. His thirst for more power acts as a direct reflection of how drugs affect the neighborhood itself. There's also a third storyline involving a CIA operative running a secret operation funding the Nicaraguan Contras. All three of these stories set in motion a - no spoiler alert here, you guys. This happened thirty years ago. You know how it ends. - devastating drug epidemic in South Central.
Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, 2 Fast 2 Furious) has been migrating toward television in recent years, and I think that this is going to be a prime stage for him to tell larger and deeper stories. He's a director that likes exploring an extended timeline, and what better arena for him than series TV! Snowfall is a compelling watch, and it hits FX on July 5. Check out the trailer below: