FX's Snowfall season 2 finale
Courtesy: FX

Television

Why 'Snowfall's' 1980s Drug Drama Is Perfect for Today's Post-Truth Politics

FX’s crack-cocaine drama Snowfall wraps up its second season on Thursday, Sept. 20, with Damson Idris’ Franklin Saint and his family, rivals and pursuers trying to make their way in 1984's Los Angeles. With the lead-up to the finale, creators John Singleton, Eric Amadio and Dave Andron have been diving into one of the most riveting scandals in American history: the Iran-Contra affair.

During President Ronald Reagan’s second term, the Iran-Contra scandal revealed that the administration arranged for the sale of arms to a then-embargoed Iran, hoping to fund the Contras, an anti-Communist rebel group in Nicaragua. The following cover-up efforts to protect Reagan and his officials are often talked about in terms of “post-truth politics.” In other words, it feels like a relevant story to tell in 2018.
Andron confirms to Playboy that the timeliness of the story line, planned from Snowfall’s conception, is no accident. “I just read a thing recently where Jimmy Carter came out and said something to the effect of, he couldn't recall a time when he has deliberately lied to or deceived the American people,” Andron says. “We all have a lot of skepticism for our politicians, but never more than now [have we been so] skeptical of our government, of transparency and where that truth lies. To just start to go at moments in history when our government has been far less than transparent is always timely, and maybe never more so than now.”

The story is incredibly complex, especially considering, as Andron points out, that no one in the CIA has ever gone on official record to substantiate the agency’s involvement in Iran-Contra. Andron believes the show has a responsibility to offer a factual representation of the events, while still telling a story that services Snowfall’s thoughtfully crafted characters.
“You do find the balance," he explains. "Our first job, in my view, is to entertain, to give the audience something where they're engaged and interested. Then, you have a responsibility to try to educate, to a certain extent, but again, within that you have to take what's out there and just eventually pick a lane and just go, and that's all you can do.”

Andron previously worked as a writer and producer on all six seasons of FX’s Justified, and for both series, the network has taken a supportive view of that balance between entertaining and educating. “With Justified, on the one hand, I think people tuned in and loved it because it was this great cops-and-robbers gunslinger story," he says. "But that was kind of the sugar that made the medicine go down, because we got to tell the story of Harlan County and what’s happened to these coal mining towns in the grip of opioid addiction. FX really embraces that. They embrace the idea that we’re going to have enough fun, sex and violence that people are excited to watch, but then [we don’t have to be] afraid to go at things politically, afraid to elevate the story.”
To go at moments in history when our government has been far less than transparent is always timely, and maybe never more so than now.
So what’s the next historical landmark in Snowfall’s future? The story of the origin of the crack epidemic is told during a remarkably tumultuous time in our country’s cultural and political history, and future episodes will be no exception, as Andron offers a hint at what we can expect from Snowfall's recently announced third season.

"We're really excited about season three and getting into the Olympics, which Los Angeles hosted in the summer of '84," Andron offers. "It obviously changed the landscape of this city, and that is kind of the moment that everybody agrees crack really exploded." Andron points out the compelling irony of this timing: "On the one hand, all the resources from the city and the country [are] going into, 'Hey, look at us, look how wonderful we are,’ and yet there was this segment of the population that was starting to be decimated, and nobody was paying attention. Nobody cared."

2018 EMMY NOMINEE SPOTLIGHT

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