Following in the footsteps of FX’s previous dramas, like Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Ryan Murphy’s Feud, Snowfall hooked me from the beginning. With the warm tones highlighting a hot Los Angeles summer paired with a soundtrack straight from the 1980s, Boyz N the Hood director John Singleton takes you back to the middle of the cocaine epidemic during the early 1980s in LA.
While the origin of Snowfall is based around crack-cocaine in South Central LA, the pilot introduces us to the many characters who will become central to the cause. The cast is undeniably talented and their charisma and chemistry is one of the main reasons I’m excited to return to my television every week. However, during the pilot episode, I felt like each characters’ introductions warranted more time.
We’re first introduced to Franklin Saint, played by British actor Damson Idris. I honestly could watch an entire episode of just Franklin’s storyline, Idris is just that good. Franklin is a smart young street entrepreneur trying to make the best out of his situation in South Central. I’d describe him as a dealer with a heart of gold. Despite living in a rougher neighborhood, Franklin was able to attend a nice suburban high school on scholarship. After graduation, he opted out of college to move back in with his mother (Michael Hyatt). He decided not to go to college because, while well-liked in high school, he felt like an outsider and didn’t want to go through that in college as well.
Franklin wants to do good by his mother so he works two jobs, one which his mother knows about. By day he’s a convenience store clerk and by night, a weed dealer for his uncle. It’s not until Franklin visits a rich friend from high school that he learns the real money is in cocaine.
While renewing his friend’s supply, Franklin finds himself at a mansion in the Valley. There, he comes face-to-face with a potbelly, Speedo-wearing cocaine hustler named Avi (Alon Aboutboul). After almost putting a bullet in Franklin’s skull, Avi takes a chance on him after Franklin says he can sell a brick in a night, which is worth $12,000. Through some trials and tribulations, and another gun pointed at his head, Franklin gets it done. You honestly can’t help but root for the kid.
The second storyline focuses on Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), a CIA operative who was exiled from the agency. McDonald starts running an off-book operation to fund the Nicaraguan Contras with a Contra soldier named Alejandro Usteves (Juan Javier Cardenas). While this storyline first confused me, I was slowly able to pick up the pieces by the end of the episode. Based on the real Contra scandal, McDonald and Usteves’ storyline isn’t as cut-and-dry as Franklin’s, which makes it imperative that you pay attention to understand the inner workings of their operation.
The final, and probably least developed storyline so far, is that of Gustavo Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a Mexican wrestler in the middle of a power struggle within a Mexican drug cartel. The head of the cartel’s daughter, Lucia (Emily Rios), is plotting to seize control and is using Gustavo’s feelings for her to do just that. I am interested to see how Gustavo’s role plays out compared to the other more developed characters.
Even though the entire show could succeed on Franklin’s storyline alone, Snowfall is definitely one to look out for come awards season. With its amazing soundtrack, tough material, and multiple fresh-faced stars leading the pack, Snowfall could make the same impact Atlanta did.