SNOWFALL Review: “Pilot”

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is a series created by John Singleton.  It transports us to June 14, 1983, the genesis of cocaine for Black neighborhoods in LA.  Singleton wants us to know that your Uncle Joe was on to some truth when he said the CIA was behind hard drugs entering these communities.

A White man is shown partying and sexing a few girls at a lush pad somewhere in the hills.  He decides that snorting cocaine is old.  He asks a girl bud to blow it up his arse.  As expected he lands on his butt suffering from a seizure.  His other male bud, Gustavo, does something odd – he stands over his body while it sputters into expiration.  He doesn’t call an ambulance because guess what?  They’re both CIA agents.

It’s further revealed that in that same lush pad, there is an arsenal of cocaine.   Gustavo enlists Teddy’s help, a fellow CIA man to help.  They are cooking up a plan to make all that cocaine disappear.  Instead of flushing it down the toilet, they want to push it out somehow.  At the moment, some folks Gustavo trusts are the first choice.  We will see what happens with this storyline next week.

An Israeli distributor is making his mark in a Black community through a teenager, Franklin.  I assume Franklin is 19. His crush is in high school, but they’re at the age where those kind of age lines are tricky.  She invites him to a high school party, and he’s like, “I’m not going to that”.  She’s like, “but you’re only 2 years older than me”.  So, I think 19 is a pretty good guess.

frankling and uncle

Anyway, Franklin thinks he has the game figured out – it’s rigged for White people and rigged against Black people.  He doesn’t add those details to the “it’s rigged” statement, but I’m sure that’s what he means.  There is no Kanye West thinking at this time where people are distinguishing between race and class.  Both are one in the same in 1983.

Franklin says that he is working toward freedom.  He doesn’t want to work a 9-5 for the rest of his life.  He wants to be his own boss.  Like several teens in his shoes, he is looking for a way to gain financial freedom in the most rapid way.  He thought weed would be the gateway, but it isn’t.  Cocaine is the big thing.  It’s what he sees all his old White schoolmates doing in the valley and hills.  It comes with more money, but since Biggie isn’t yet alive, he’s not truly convinced that it comes with more problems.

Franklin is put out on the street courtesy of the Israeli distributor.  He challenges him to sell a brick of coke in 24 hours.  With the confidence of the baddest MC of that time, he takes it on.  Thinking that he could get his uncle to help him, he goes to his house to propose a plan.  His uncle shoos him out the house with the understanding that selling weed is as hard as he wants to go.  His eavesdropping wife decides to help Franklin.

franklin and the homies

She introduces him to an ex-friend distributor / dealer who pistol whips her upon sight.  Apparently, she did something foul to her, so that must have been a delayed reaction.  Despite that, she buys the kilo under the pretense that he continues to supply her.  As she and Franklin ride home, he sees his dad.  He cruises past their car in a raggedy coat with a paper bag in his hands.  She asks whether he wants to stop to speak to him.  He refuses.

There is no way that Franklin knows what is about to befall his community and even his own dad when cocaine grips his community.  I am already preparing for the day Franklin realizes the gravity of his own decision to get rich quick – that it came at the expense of his dad’s health or even death.  His mother, Cissy, is played by the same actress who played Avon’s mother in “The Wire”.  She was the mother of a drug kingpin that series, and she was ruthless.  I hope she doesn’t become a victim of cocaine addiction.  That would kill Franklin.

After watching “Snowfall”, it’s so funny seeing how people demonized weed on .  It proves that some drugs are legal because they benefit a certain group of people while others are illegal because they benefit a certain group of people.

As with “Boyz in the Hood”, John Singleton wants you to know this is an LA story.  The end of the first scene retreats from Franklin and his friends to show larger-than-life palm trees perfectly lined in front of each and every house.  But the LA story is ‘Merica’s story.  Seeing this microcosm will resonate with all communities.

Bravo to John Singleton’s brilliant mind, and thanks to FX for making this.  I am beyond excited.

TB-TV-Grade-ASeason 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
Snowfall airs Wednesday at 9PM on FX

Read all of our reviews of Snowfall here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


Jennifer spends her nights , her days securing insurance for shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @reneseford
Keep up with all of Jennifer’s reviews here.

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