Last night’s premiere of FX’s new show Snowfall contained a lot of what I expected from a series about drugs, and some of what I did not. I expected that much of the show, which details how the crack-cocaine epidemic began in L.A., to focus on men. The underworld is often framed as a bad boys club where women appear as props and extras. Trailers and other promotional material that ran before the show aired also seemed to be moving in this direction. And in the first 10 minutes of the pilot episode, where one woman gives a man a blow job and another blows coke up that same man’s ass, I accepted the fact that I’d likely be disappointed on this front. Luckily, I was wrong.
In Snowfall, women are more than than porn stars, partners in sexual trysts, and coke heads. While her exact role isn’t clear yet, Lucia (Emily Rios) clearly has more to offer than being a minor henchwoman in the business. She appears too prominently in the promo to be dismissed. On top of that, there are several Black women who made me want to tune in again.
Cissy (Michael Hyatt), the mother of the series’ protagonist Franklin (Damson Idris), is struggling at a demanding but not rewarding job, and she obviously cares deeply for her son. Hyatt’s portrayal of Cissy manifests in an emotional display of both the joys and worries of raising an adult child. While I don’t trust Franklin’s neighbor Melody (Parker McKenna Posey), on whom he obviously has a crush, I loved that it was she who demanded to know why he gave up his opportunity to go to college. He has a pretty good explanation —he doesn't want to deal with racism and micro-agressions while being trained to work for someone else — but the question still needed to be asked when his reality in Compton is so bleak, for now. Even though Melody is disappointed with this choice and would make another one if she could, she supports him.
Appearing first as an unstimulated, almost sedated couch potato, Franklin’s Aunt Louie (Angela Lewis) almost immediately springs into action when she is summoned by her husband Jerome (Amin Joseph) to “handle” an unruly and uninvited guest at their door. Let’s just say she completes this mission successfully. However, Aunt Louie also has the connections and common sense to help Franklin with his new business venture — getting into the drug trade —and puts herself at risk to do it. She’s also tender and compassionate, with a strong sense of morality and family values. According to Twitter, she might already be a fan favorite.
Aunt Louie again proves herself valuable when she introduces Franklin to ruthless club owner and overall badass Claudia Crane (Judith Scott). Until this point, everyone at the top of their respective food chains on Snowfall had been a man. Claudia, who reigns over the club like a queen with a head of locs as her crown, immediately caught my attention. I’m not sure how long she’ll last, but she’s already my favorite character, even if she is potentially an adversary.
In reality, women play a significant role in every part of life. I’m glad John Singleton is acknowledging this in his latest creation by making women a driving force behind the action.
April Yvette Thompson