The drug game is one business I definitely do not ever want to invest in. While watching  FX’s new drama, Snowfall, I quickly discovered that it’s an alluring, but extremely dangerous trap. Today, with the advent of technology, transactions are seemingly more covert than ever, making the drug world seem safer to jump into, and make a quick bit of cash. In the 1980s, that illusion existed in no way, but people were still hungry, and daring enough, to play in the sinking sands—often times, to their detriment.

Snowfall fictionally documents the horrors of selling “snow” (crack cocaine), during the gritty decade of the ‘80s, in Los Angeles, California. The series follows three main characters through a devastating 10 episode descent into drug hell. And believe me, they each feel the heat of their actions immensely.

The show opens with Franklin Saint (played by Damson Idris), a sweet, caring, young (19, maybe 20-year-old) black guy who is sort of straight-laced (he respects his mother, holds down a regular job at a local corner store, but sells a bit of weed on the side), but wants more for his life so badly, that he is more than willing to sacrifice every bit of his clean-cut reputation, in exchange for a financial come-up.

Shortly after meeting Franklin, we’re introduced to Gustavo “El Oso” Zapata (Sergio PerisMencheta), a wrestler that gets caught-up with a crime family and, literally, gets blood on his hands that he can’t clean off.

And finally, we run into Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), a shady CIA Operative whose storyline is very mysterious and honestly left me confused AF (a character in the final episode asks Teddy, “Who the fuck are you?” and I found myself still befuddled after his reply).

Malcolm Mays, Damson Idris, & Isaiah John in ‘Snowfall’ | Mark Davis/FX
Malcolm Mays, Damson Idris, & Isaiah John in ‘Snowfall’ | Mark Davis/FX

Throughout the series, the three characters’ stories subtly intertwine with one another, but never, interestingly, completely meet. I found this to be fascinating, but I can see most viewers growing frustrated at the constant near meeting of plot lines. However, what they do definitely all connect with, is the selling of crack cocaine.

Snowfall is not a walk in the park to watch. It is often heartbreaking and terrifying watching the main players, and their supporting members, fall deeper and deeper into more and more mess. But yet, it’s also extremely satisfying.

The series is co-created, executive produced, and (sometimes) directed and written by a guy who knows a thing-or-two about telling rough stories based in California, John Singleton. And by the language, cinematography, immersive sets, and caliber of actors, he seemed to have approached the show with the same depth as he has delivered in his past classic feature films. The result is hour after hour of deeply moving television that will leave you begging for more.

With that said, Snowfall is far from exemplary. There are a few episodes that fall flat, asking the viewer to push through in hopes that it picks up again. And the characters are so relentless in their pursuits for drug fame and fortune, that they begin to feel unbelievable. But even with those flaws, the performances and direction are so great that it’s quite difficult to give up on the show.

Overall, Snowfall is worth your time. It’s solid television with diverse characters that packs more depth than mostly anything else currently being broadcasted this summer. It will also deter you from ever considering drug selling to be your financial calling card. It ain’t all what it’s “cracked” up to be. Snowfall makes that very clear.

Snowfall (2017)
Created by John Singleton & Eric Amadio and Dave Andron
Stars Damson Idris, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Carter Hudson, Emily Rios
Rating TV MA