Snowfall

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Snowfall TV Poster Image
Edgy show about the '80s crack epidemic is complex, mature.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The reasons for the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s are complex and not easy to solve. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one is all bad, but most characters don’t think about the harm they are causing others. 

Violence

Shootings, beatings, murder. Guns, military weapons visible. 

Sex

Strong sexual content, including simulated sex acts and partial nudity (side of breasts, bare buttocks). 

Language

“Damn,” “s--t,” a partially audible "f--k," etc. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (beer, hard alcohol), cigarette smoking, lots of drug use (marijuana, cocaine). An overdose is shown. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Snowfall is a dark and gritty series about the crack cocaine trade and that it is intended for adults. The use of cocaine, as well as alcohol, pot, and cigarettes, is frequently shown. Beatings, shootings, and other violent behaviors are common. There's strong sexual content (including gratuitous simulated sex acts, partial nudity), and some cursing, too. The characters are complex and live by ambiguous codes, but most seek personal gains by buying/selling drugs. Those old enough to handle it will find a series that's complex and intelligent, but sometimes hard to watch. 

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What's the story?

Co-created by Boyz n the Hood's John Singleton, SNOWFALL is a dramatic series about the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic in Southern California. It's 1983, and in South Central Los Angeles, recent high school graduate Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) wants to go from small-time marijuana dealer to major middleman for big-time gangster Avi Drexler (Alon Aboutboul). Meanwhile, dishonored CIA agent Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson) finds himself facing the drug war again when his dead friend is revealed to be part of a CIA-backed cocaine trade designed to fund the war in Nicaragua. While this is happening, Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios) is trying to take over her family's cartel, and pulls washed-up wrestler and small-time thug Gustavo "El Oso" Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mecheta) into the fray. As each story develops, it tells a part of the complicated tale of crack's rise.  

Is it any good?

This edgy, complex series offers viewers a multifaceted look at what led to the devastating crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. It sets the dark world of the drug trade in bright and sunny Los Angeles, and reveals the often complicated reasons people became involved. The cast lives by their individual codes of behavior that aren't always clear-cut or easy to judge. Nonetheless, most of the characters are indifferent to the negative consequences their actions inflict on others. 

It can be harrowing to watch, especially when the young and intelligent Franklin, who John Singleton based on some of his own life experiences, continues his push into the excesses and violent exploits of big-time drug dealing. There are also some slow-moving moments, too. But Snowfall’s interpretation of how crack cocaine rose to be one of the decade's biggest problems paints an entertainingly dramatic picture of a phenomenon that is neither simple to understand nor straightforward enough to resolve. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Snowfall portrays the drug trade during the 1980s. Do you think the amount of illegal drugs people buy and use has changed since then? How does the legalization of marijuana in some states influence the way people think about the drug trade today?

  • Lots of TV shows and movies feature people smoking marijuana, or doing harder drugs, without facing any consequences. Is this realistic? How do shows like Snowfall portray drug use? 

  • What are the reasons that the people featured in Snowfall are involved in the drug trade? Are those reasons justifiable? 

TV details

For kids who love drama

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