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John Singleton’s ‘Snowfall’ debuts on FX

Shonda McClain | 7/5/2017, 6:13 p.m.
Set in 1983, John Singleton’s new FX drama, “Snowfall,” chronicles the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central ...
From left, Malcolm Mays as Kevin, Damson Idris as Franklin and Isaiah John as Leon in "Snowfall." - Mark Davis/FX)

Set in 1983, John Singleton’s new FX drama, “Snowfall,” chronicles the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central Los Angeles.

Singleton serves as the executive director of the show, which follows a small-time weed dealer, Franklin Saint, played by British newcomer Damson Idris. When Franklin sees an opportunity to expand his fledgling drug business, he seizes the opportunity, becoming a middleman between a cocaine supplier and a distributor. But, when things get real and oftentimes violent, Franklin finds that he may be in a little over his head.

“He’s not Scarface,” Singleton told The Washington Post. “He’s just a little kid who’s trying to make his way into a business that could kill him at any moment.”

Singleton told TV Guide he wanted to create a show that showed the destructive impact the crack epidemic on the City of Angels.

“We’ve seen ‘Scarface.’ We know what happened in Miami in the early ‘80s, but no one has really dramatized what happened when that cocaine pipeline opened up into the West and how wild a crazy Los Angeles was at that time,” he said. “This movie starts a year before the events of my first movie, ‘Boyz N The Hood.’ I wanted to show how cocaine changed Los Angeles and in changing Los Angeles, it actually changed America.”

The series’ showrunner, Dave Andron, told The Washington Post he was surprised to learn that in 1983, South Central was still a working-class neighborhood.

“Everybody I’ve talked to, including John, can attest that things were still relatively okay. By the summer of ’84, by the time the Olympics showed up one year later, it was a war zone. How did something turn that violent, that ugly, that quickly?”

“Had crack not landed, what would have happened?” Andron continued. “Would that next generation have been more educated, have broken down more barriers? Instead, what we had was the complete opposite, where literally a plague was unleashed on a neighborhood that probably set that community and others like it around the country back maybe generations. That’s something that was really shattering to me and difficult to get my head around.”

“Snowfall” debuts July 5 at 10 p.m. on FX.

Follow me on Twitter @ShondaMcClain.