FX’s Cocaine Drama Snowfall Only Delivers a Mild Buzz

Snowfall Series Premiere Plot Summary:

Three world collide as the greater Los Angeles area is exposed to a massive influx of cocaine, and eventually crack. One world involves disgruntled CIA agent Teddy MacDonald (Carter Hudson) who sees opportunity in dealing cocaine in order to fund a Central American war. Another features struggling luchador Gustavo “El Oso” Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) attempting to work his way into a cartel. The final world revolves around Saint (Damson Idris) an intelligent Los Angeles youth, stuck in a low income neighborhood, who sees selling cocaine as his way out.

The hype for FX’s new crime series Snowfall, had me hyped with anticipation. It seemed like a fresh, intense, and fast paced look at the cocaine epidemic that struck the U.S. (particularly the West Coast) in the ’80s.

Unfortunately, everything in Snowfall feels like a retread of something we’ve seen before. And let’s face it — we’ve seen “the rise of a drug empire” story countless times. However, we’ve also seen gangster films, alien invasions, zombie apocalypses, and baseball movies countless times before. Yet, creatives still find a way to make these tried and true genres fresh and new.

Snowfall falters because instead of telling one, fully fleshed out, and intense story, we get three stories that are not given even enough time to develop. We’re given too many characters and only one of them is given actual substance. The pacing is slow, the twists are predictable, and it’s vulgarity, while fine for HBO, is still a bit jarring for FX.

The bright spot of the entire premiere is the performance of Damson Idris, who plays Saint. Idris portrays Saint as such a charisma that despite the fact he’s dealing drugs, you still find him extremely endearing. Eventually, I’m sure, that will cause hearts to break when he turns into either an evil drug lord, or he gets killed by season’s end.

And it’s extremely obvious that Saint’s story is the heart of the series. It’s given the most airtime, and while this is fine, it really hamstrings the other stories. We’re given enough info on the CIA/cocaine story (which is way more interesting than Saint’s), but El Oso’s luchador gone bad arc is barely developed.

Snowfall, like other FX dramas such as The Bridge, should be great but instead suffer from trying to be so wild and creative, but ultimately fall short on delivery.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites