‘Snowfall’: John Singleton’s Tale of L.A.’s Crack Cocaine Plague

Snowfall © 2017 FX Networks, LLC.

Director John Singleton broke into film with 1991’s acclaimed Boyz n the Hood, which was largely based on his experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles. His new FX drama series, Snowfall (premiering Wednesday, July 5, at 10pm ET/PT), returns to those L.A. neighborhoods to explore how the explosion of crack cocaine in the early 1980s turned them into war zones.

Snowfall opens in the summer of 1983, when the streets of South Central still had ice cream vendors and kids on bicycles carrying boomboxes. “One of the things that we try to do starting out with this season is show how, when we go into South Central, how different it was then,” Singleton says. “There were no bars on the windows, less fences. That happens once this whole snowfall, as we call it, pervades the neighborhood. People change, families change, alliances change, [everything] becomes more dangerous.”

The drama revolves around characters whose vastly different worlds collide and catalyze L.A.’s crack epidemic. Franklin (Damson Idris) is an enterprising young pot dealer who takes a huge risk by entering the cocaine trade. Lucia (Emily Rios) is the daughter of a Mexican drug kingpin who wants to bring the family business into something more profitable than smuggling marijuana. Gustavo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) is “El Oso,” a luchador who also does Lucia’s dirty work. And Alejandro (Juan Javier Cárdenas) is a Contra rebel from Nicaragua, who allies with CIA officer Teddy (Carter Hudson) in a secret exchange of drugs for financial aid to the Contras.

The CIA involvement in L.A.’s crack explosion is a contentious idea that was investigated in journalist Gary Webb’s 1996 “Dark Alliance” newspaper reports. Many of Webb’s claims have since been debunked. But Snowfall isn’t a documentary, and the CIA angle is worth creative exploration.

“I don’t think there was any conspiracy to bring crack to the inner city or destroy a people,” says Snowfall co-creator Dave Andron. “I think they looked the other way. At the time, cocaine was a rich white man’s drug. Nobody saw what crack would do to these people.”

1 Comment

  1. I really don’t how you can put this out on television as a black person who live though that time in history you are putting blacks,white,Hispanic lives who lost love ones to this drug and to this day kids if crack addicts are still dealing with problems of still paying for there parent bad days of usage the drug stealing there kids dreams of family’s and a future lost of family’s and friends. You only look at your wallet and its sad I thought you were about change but to put blacks on blast like this shows you are about the money not change the government put this drug back on the street for people to kill or become addicts and it is sad you as a black person would put this kind of show on television so all those white government officials can get a laugh at our pain but you don’t care you needed a hit show I real hope you can live with yourself you for money but my friends and family will stand together and not watch it a person trying to change history does try to repeat it or show us as black youths who had to come together and try to change this not show it over television stations I used to look up to blacks who try to change our history but not to make a dollar bill but I can see blacks and history is still a jokes for whites when a so called black person makes a joke of blacks like this what will be the joke at the water cooler Thursday how you get blacks to work give them crack I am sorry (brother) But is the joke on us or is it on America. I stand against this show I hope I am not alone and any black,white,Hispanic who has lost family and friends to this drug or government used to kill us and our kids dreams but it’s ok for you bro your other movies change how people saw us but the show you are putting will only show us as weak people but it will help you and your show how many of the actors in your show use drugs but they can pay for it some kid mom,or dad can’t afford it but the kids future is ok long as they end up like there mom or dad right Mr. Singleton or your next show should be about how whites use to have picnics in history or how they celebrate the 4th of July during slavery days you should get a Oscar for those shows too. I hope your kids don’t end up on some type drug and end up on some rehab show for the stars good luck my family members who lost there lives goes over looked but your show will bring back nightmares for other family’s it ok for you have a great life for you I hope but when you end up in heaven all those black who died due to crack I hope they let you know how bad it was for them on a drug our government put back on the streets to kill young American for the all might dollar and the lost of a lot of kids dreams and lives to gangs and drug live and jails are filled and so is your pockets no future or dreams for them just lost of kids and lives I am sorry for the lost of lives in America or government destroyed by putting a drug the change people into killers and kids into gang members and no future.

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About Ryan Berenz 1928 Articles
Devotee of Star Wars. Builder of LEGO. Observer of televised sports. Member of the Television Critics Association. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Connoisseur of beer. Consumer of cheese. Father of two. Husband of one. Scourge of the Alaskan Bush People. Font of Simpsons knowledge. Son of a Stonecutter.