FX's new series Snowfall covers the crack epidemic of Los Angeles in the early '80s.
The subject matter has been covered in various documentaries and most recently in the Jeremy Renner thriller Kill the Messenger, but John Singleton's drama will tackle the show from three different perspectives: a young black male trying to raise above his circumstances in South Central, a CIA operative who gets enveloped in the drug trade into America and a young Hispanic woman who diverges from her weed trafficking family to make bank.
Beginning in the summer of 1983, Snowfall aims to show the span of the devastation of the arrival of crack cocaine in urban Los Angeles. While not the safest neighborhood, South Central Los Angeles was a working class neighborhood before the drug flooded the streets.
"People describe it as a bomb being dropped on that area," said showrunner Dave Andron at the Television Critics Association winter previews on Thursday. "In the span of six months, [the drug wave] completely flipped [the neighborhood]."
One of the most controversial aspects about the time period Snowfall covers is how much the United States government was involved with crack finding its way into urban areas and specifically into neighborhoods inhabited primarily by people of color. Andron and Singleton say they are staying away from the conspiracy theories about the government purposefully sending crack into black neighborhoods.
"We are sensitive to the conspiracy theories that over time have been debunked. This exists, I think for all these characters, and what makes an interesting premise is that grey area," Andron said. "I don't think there was any conspiracy to bring crack in to the inner city to destroy the people, but I think they did look away. At the time, cocaine was a rich white man's drug. No one saw what crack was going to do to these people."
Whether it was purposeful or not, the crack epidemic decimated an entire section of the population and the ramifications of its presence are still being felt in the present day. That is something the show is absolutely going to tackle.
"[The government] thought they were doing something where the ends justified the means, but in hindsight, boy, they were so wrong," Andron said.
Snowfall premieres in summer.