“Snowfall” Review: John Singleton’s Brillant Tale of the Crack-Cocaine Epidemia

This past Saturday I got a chance to attend a private screening of the new FX series Snowfall, created and executively produced by John Singleton. The show chronicles the life of character Franklin Saint, a naïve yet street smart African-American teen that finds himself wrapped up in the violent world of cocaine dealing.

I have to admit I went to the screening having a few reservations. I was worried the show would not tell an authentic truth of how the crack cocaine epidemic began or the severity of it. An epidemic that to this day has detrimental effects on the black community.

As I watched the series, I realized Snowfall was not just another show about impoverished black people and their stories. Rather it tells a relatable tale of people’s lives we think we know all about, but we rarely get to ever see.

*John Singleton discussing the show and it’s events. 

As viewers we often go into watching something with an already construed idea of what the series will be. So when I heard the ingredients for this show: black boy, crack cocaine, and Compton,  I had already made an assumption that this would be just another show that depicts us in a negative light. Oh how I was wrong.

In this show the protagonist Franklin, a young black teen that has all of the attributes to fall within a black show’s character stereotype is everything but that. There is a sense of innocence that the character possesses. He is intelligent enough to know this world is flawed, but still not wise enough to comprehend what he is truly getting himself into. Yes, he may be smart enough to grasp that this country is disproportionately structured for black teens like himself to fail, he still doesn’t understand the magnitude of what being a crack cocaine dealer will entail. I found that I once took away all the stigmas about young black teens, I was left with the idea that they are still teenagers. Teenagers make mistakes, and find themselves in faulty situations all of the time. Franklin is just that, a flawed teenager with hero syndrome who just happens to find himself in a highly faulty situation.

I left the screening with a new insight on how I viewed “stereotypical black shows.” Maybe if we stopped viewing them all as that and began to see them as great stories about individuals with flaws that happened to be one particular race, we would gain more of an appreciation for shows like Snowfall.

John Singleton did an excellent job of showcasing the characters as humans first, then expanding them and the many intersections of their lives second. I was able to empathize with a lot of the characters, being that a lot of them displayed characteristics of someone I’ve crossed paths with. I’m excited to see the direction in which he takes the show. I can promise you this, if the rest of the season is anything like the first episode then Singleton has perfected the recipe for the makings of a remarkable show.

*Snowfall premieres tonight for 10PM/9c on the FX Network.


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