TV/Movies

Snowfall and the Importance of Having Patience With “Slow-Burn TV”


From the moment I saw the first teaser for Snowfall, I was intrigued. The crack “epidemic” is a definitive era in American history and we still feel a lot of those effects today. Although this era gets romanticized endlessly through every medium imaginable and I shy away from it (See: Narcos) Snowfall still had me curious.

Maybe it was the first teaser, John Singleton’s involvement or the fact FX rarely misses but this show had a different feel to it.

screenshot-www.rottentomatoes.com 2017-07-14 10-02-30

Critics didn’t seem to agree. Now, I never let reviews shape my opinion but I do like to read multiple reviews to see if there is one common denominator. After watching the first two episodes, I do share one opinion: Snowfall is a slow burning series.

Slow-burning TV shows aren’t necessarily a bad thing. One of my favorite shows of the last five years is Rectify and it moves slower than country molasses. Slow-burning TV shows have two caveats to consider 1) your personal investment 2) consumption.

If you’re going to take awhile getting around to your point, I better be interested in the ride. The start of the crack era? Ok, I’m in.

Consumption is just important as the first point. Slow-burning TV shows aren’t the best for network TV in my opinion, especially since streaming reigns supreme now. There is typically one shot to make an impression but at least with Netflix, you can simply click “Start Next Episode” instead of waiting a week.

This is where I think the disconnect falls. I haven’t seen every single episode of this show, so I can’t provide the most educated opinion but I have no reason to believe this show can transition from good to great.

What separates Snowfall from the numerous retellings of this period is the approach. This show isn’t out to show you the spoils of the drug trade, it wants to show you the horrors of it. While I’m not a fan of three different perspectives off the bat, connecting these loose threads are enough to keep me watching. It takes a bottom level approach and plans to build up. Right now, there are no king pins, there’s no big cartel, and this is a throw-away CIA detail. Seeing these three worlds collide will be the driving show of this show. All that is required is a bit of patience. If the payoff is worth it, which it should be, then the slow ride is well worth it.

I don’t know where Snowfall is going but I’m invested. Here’s to hoping this show has every chance to continue telling this important story.

[PS: If nothing else, watch for Damson Idris. He’s doing a phenomenal job so far]

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