What critics are saying about FX's '80s crack epidemic series from John Singleton, 'Snowfall'
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Television

What critics are saying about FX's '80s crack epidemic series from John Singleton, 'Snowfall'

“Snowfall,” the new FX drama series about the start of the crack epidemic in Los Angeles, premieres tonight, Wednesday, July 5 at 10 PM ET/PT on FX.

Created by John Singleton & Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, “Snowfall” is executive produced by Singleton, Amadio, Andron, Thomas Schlamme, Michael London and Trevor Engelson. Andron serves as showrunner.

The official story: Los Angeles 1983. A storm is coming and its name is crack. Snowfall is a one-hour drama set against the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic and its ultimate radical impact on the culture as we know it. The story follows numerous characters on a violent collision course, including: Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), young street entrepreneur on a quest for power; Gustavo “El Oso” Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a Mexican wrestler caught up in a power struggle within a crime family; Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson), a CIA operative running from a dark past who begins an off-book operation to fund the Nicaraguan Contras and Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios), the self-possessed daughter of a Mexican crime lord.

FX ordered 10 episodes of the drama series which the cable TV network has spent the last few weeks building buzz around via early screenings in various cities nationwide; and word-of-mouth from those who attended these screenings, as well as critic reactions, have been mixed-to-positive, scoring a 61 rating on Metacritic and a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here’s a small sample; first the mostly good:

The Washington Post: “‘Snowfall’ is lean, mean and precise. Though it fictionalizes and chronicles a depressing (and violent) American crisis, it belongs on everyone’s must-watch list this summer.”

Indiewire: T”he episodic writing is clean, with a sturdy structure and traditional arcs. More often than not, what happens in the first few minutes comes back around in the final few. But given how much TV is out there and how competitive the market is because of it, it’s less interesting to watch anything familiar.”

And the not-so-good:

The Hollywood Reporter: “Because it’s not just those three main players that ‘Snowfall’ focuses on, but myriad people around each of them. By telling bits of the story involving those additional characters, ‘Snowfall’ never seems to get around to the actual story of crack. Most series that get by despite complicated storylines or a lagging pace do so with top-tier writing and standout performances.”

San Francisco Chronicle: “There is no logical motivation for any of the main characters to do what they do. In fact, what motivates Lucia, Oso, Franklin and Teddy isn’t logical: It’s addiction. One way or another, each character is driven beyond the point at which their actions can be tempered by logic, and we are called on to suspend disbelief in a very specific way in the case of ‘Snowfall.’ That’s both an ambitious and a dangerous approach to characterization.”

The consensus seems to be that, lacking in originality, it’s not strong enough to be a great show, but it’s also not the worst that summer TV has to offer. Somewhere in there the truth lives. Find out tonight for yourselves when “Snowfall” premieres at 10/9c on FX.

The network has released a 3+ minute first-look at the upcoming series. Watch it below:

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