“We’re still kind of feeling the ramifications… it set those communities back for generations,” said Snowfall executive producer/showrunner Dave Andron today during a panel discussion at the American Black Film Festival about the upcoming FX drama series, which follows the onset of the cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles during the early 1980s.
“I think we’re still dealing with it,” he continued. “The story hasn’t been told the way TV allows it, where we can really dig into it and do hopefully four or five seasons on not only what happened but why did it continue, why was it allowed to happen, and how we’re still reeling from it all. [Barack] Obama lessened the penalties for serving nonviolent offenses — now it seems like we’re taking a step back. So it’s a good time to put it in the collective conscience again.”
Creator/executive producer John Singleton, also on the panel at the Miami-set festival, later gave Deadline his take on why the show is still relevant. “As bad as the crack cocaine epidemic was, and bad for Black American, it pushed us in a different way. If forced us to be creative, and our survival instinct kicked in. We ended up changing the world through this.”
Premiering July 5 on FX, the the series focuses on the cultural impact crack cocaine brought to urban areas, told through multiple characters whose paths are bound to cross: Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), a 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.
“Those of you who ived through this, understand how this affected a lot of our family members,” said Singleton. “This really came from me thinking about getting into television and having a medium to explore it from different levels. The greatest television shows always have these interesting environments and they explore all the various characters.”
The show isn’t based on specific source material, so production had to rely on consultants and research, which posed its own challenges. “There is a lot of fringe material on the Internet and you do actually have to be careful with some of that stuff and going down the rabbit hole,” said Andron, especially when it came to conspiracy theories around the CIA’s involvement with the drug spread. His take: “While no one in the CIA will ever admit they were associated with this, I think at this point, what can’t be argued is that they looked the other way.”
However, Andron insisted, “we are going to stay away from things that are a little more fringe on the conspiracy side.”