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How Much of Snowfall is True?

Hey friend! As a fellow streaming and gaming fan, I know you‘ll love the show Snowfall on FX. It dramatizes the start of the 1980s crack epidemic in LA. I recently did a deep dive to analyze how much of Snowfall is based on real events and people. Here‘s the scoop!

The Short Answer

While Snowfall takes creative license, it captures the core truths of how crack infiltrated and devastated LA neighborhoods in the 80s. The show is inspired by real people and dynamics that fueled the early crack trade. But the characters and plots are fictionalized for drama. Overall, I‘d say Snowfall realistically depicts the historical context, even if the specifics are embellished.

The Setting and Time Period Are Spot On

Snowfall nails the look and vibe of LA in 1983, when crack first erupted. I was fascinated to see old LA neighborhoods brought to life. The show did a ton of research to recreate the fashion, music, cars, and culture of early 80s Southern California. They even filmed in actual locations like South Central. As a SoCal native, I can confirm they transported me right back to 1983!

From a historical angle, 1983 is exactly when crack started appearing on LA streets. The show accurately captures how quickly it infiltrated communities that were already suffering from poverty, gangs, and crime. Within just a few years, crack decimated these neighborhoods. Snowfall lets you trace the epidemic from its beginnings.

The Rise of Crack Houses Was Depressing but Real

One disturbing part of the show is when abandoned houses become hubs for crack dealing and use. I remember seeing these "crack houses" pop up in the 80s as addiction spread. They brought violence and decay to once stable blocks. The crack house scenes in Snowfall are depressingly realistic.

LA Fashion and Culture Nailed It

From chunky cordless phones to Walkmans to Members Only jackets, the 80s details are so on point! The music, cars, and fashion perfectly capture the era when crack emerged. They did their homework getting those details right.

Core Characters Symbolize Real Forces Driving the Crack Trade

Snowfall‘s main characters represent the convergence of shady dynamics that fueled the early crack market:

Franklin Saint as Freeway Ricky Ross

Franklin Saint is a young dealer who sees crack as his ticket out of poverty. He‘s loosely based on the real “Freeway” Ricky Ross, one of the first major crack kingpins in LA. Ross was a young black man who exploited the emerging crack market in the 80s to build a huge cocaine empire and make millions. He‘s now out of prison and a speaker against the drug war.

There are differences between Franklin and the real Rick Ross (who was just 19). But Franklin symbolizes how disadvantaged youth like Ross exploited booming crack demand to gain money and status. Both Franklin and Rick Ross saw themselves as entrepreneurs, not victims.

The CIA Conspiracy Is Partly True

Snowfall suggests the CIA paved the way for crack in LA by allying with Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers. This is based in truth – in the 80s, the CIA allowed Nicaraguan CONTRA rebels to sell cocaine in LA to fund their war against Nicaragua‘s government. The show fictionalizes the details, but the core CIA connection is real. Their complicity increased cocaine supply right when demand was spiking.

Mexican Cartels Cashed In

Snowfall also shows Mexican cartels like the one run by wrestler Gustavo "El Oso" Zapata jumping into the LA crack market. This reflects how Mexican traffickers ramped up cocaine imports to meet US demand in the 80s and 90s. The Sinaloa Cartel and others built trafficking empires selling cocaine that often ended up as crack. Gustavo is fictional but represents cartels profiting off addiction.

Snowfall Depicts the Tragic Impact on LA Neighborhoods

While the characters are invented, Snowfall truthfully shows how crack devastated families, communities, and neighborhoods:

  • Highly addictive nature – The show powerfully depicts how instantly addictive crack is compared to other drugs. This led to individual tragedy and chaos.
  • Broken families – We see families and relationships torn apart as crack dependency spreads. A generation of kids grew up in broken homes during the epidemic.
  • Fueling gangs and crime – Competition in the crack trade led to bloody turf wars between LA gangs and drug crews. Homicides and gun crime surged.
  • Community decay – From crack houses to addiction to crime, the show accurately displays how crack bestroyed once-stable neighborhoods. South Central and East LA crumbled.

No documentary could ever capture the pain and human toll of crack better than Snowfall‘s dramatization. It puts you directly into the infusion and impact of crack in 80s LA.

Some Shocking Statistics on Crack‘s Destruction

Here are some stats that drive home the devastation:

  • In 1980, before crack, there were 200-300 cocaine overdose deaths annually. By 1989, it peaked at over 1600 deaths as crack ravaged communities.
  • LA counties like Compton and South Central went from having under 200 murders in 1980 to over 700 by the early 90s as crack fueled violence.
  • By 1990, there were an estimated 5000-10,000 crack houses operating in Los Angeles county alone.
  • Over 80% of criminal defendants in LA tested positive for cocaine during the height of the epidemic.

These shocking numbers back up Snowfall‘s depiction of communities ripped apart in just a few years.

Snowfall Lets You Feel the Crack Epidemic Firsthand

Though the story is fiction, Snowfall provides an immersive look at the emergence of crack that destroys stereotypes and statistics to reveal the human side. We see why people started dealing crack, the suffering of addicts, and how overnight, communities unravelled.

By plausibly dramatizing the forces and personalities in the early crack market, Snowfall puts you on the streets of LA in 1983 to experience the epidemic firsthand. That street-level perspective makes this show a must-watch.

So in summary friend, while Snowfall takes creative license, it stays true to the historical context and humanity of how crack ravaged LA. For a gaming and streaming fan like you who values realism, I definitely recommend binging Snowfall to enhance your understanding of this gripping chapter in history! Let me know when you start watching and how you like it.