MCN Review: FX's 'Snowfall'

Fx chronicles the 1980’s crack cocaine epidemic in its new drama series Snowfall.

The John Singleton-created series focuses on the origins of the debilitating drug from three different perspectives. The series opens in South Los Angeles and follows Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), a young street entrepreneur working at a local convenience store while doing some low-level drug dealing on the side for his uncle Jerome Saint (Amin Joseph).

VIDEO: Watch the 'Snowfall' trailer

Franklin’s attendance at a prestigious, integrated high school yielded him some upper-class clients to sell pot to. When one of those clients introduces Franklin to cocaine dealer Avi Drexler (Alon Moni Aboutboul), Franklin sees a opportunity to upgrade his drug-dealing game.

At the same time, the series also shines a light on the exploits of troubled CIA agent Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), who is unexpectedly engulfed in a CIA-approved cocaine smuggling operation that’s funding the Nicaraguan contras, as well as Gustavo “El Oso” Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a down-on-his-luck pro wrestler who becomes muscle for an ambitious, wannabe druglord Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios).

The series is a slow build, yet still manages to hold viewer interest through the development of its intriguing characters. Idris in particular shines as a level-headed kid who looks to score big in the emerging cocaine drug trade while trying not to get his hands too dirty. Also turning in a strong performance is Rios, who starred in FX Networks’ crime drama The Bridge.

Rather than focusing on the societal ravages of crack cocaine, Snowfall gives viewers an entertaining, inside view of the people on the front lines of the epidemic’s rise.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.