FX’s Snowfall already got off on the wrong foot by perpetuating a false claim about the cocaine crisis, so it was bound to mess up again sooner or later. That moment has finally come again in the form of a police brutality scene with, you guessed it, a white cop and a black man.
In the August 2nd episode “seven-four,” Franklin (Damson Idris), a young black drug-dealer, celebrates the Fourth of July with his friends and family in 1983 Los Angeles. After his Uncle Jerome (Amin Joseph) lights fireworks off of his roof, officers come to investigate the scene. No sooner than the cops arrive does a display of brutality occur, because this is television and tv writers always have to portray all white police officers as racist monsters.
Warning: Explicit language.
Officer 1: Who owns the house?
Jerome: It's my motherfucking house.
Cissy: All right. Problem, officers?
Officer 1: Been reports of gunshots being fired of a roof.
Cissy: It's just fireworks. We do it every year.
Officer 1: And the open containers? The weed? That all part of the yearly ritual as well?
Jerome: [ Laughs ] Hey, Yo, you real? You for real? Look –
Jerome: It's Independence Day.
Officer 2: You check your attitude.
Jerome: It's Independence Day, though.
Franklin: You need to check these nuts!
Cissy: Franklin. Ah, ah! Ah, ah, ah! We're not doing this. Not today. All right?
Jerome: Let me go.
Cissy: Uh, sir?
Franklin: Hold this for me.
Cissy: I'm not moving till we have a civil goddamn conversation. Come on now. Wanna have a drink. Hey, wait! What the fuck you-
Jerome: Come on, man!
Franklin: Get off! Get off of me! [ Shouting continues ]
Jerome: Get off him, man!
Officer 1: [ Gun cocks ] I will shoot! Back off!
Man: He can't fucking breathe!
Jerome: Hey, you -- you let him go! [ Ragged breath ] -He's got a gun! -Let him go! -Hey, Yo, let go, man! -Let him go! [ Siren wailing ] [ Tires screech ]
Man: Hold up! Hold up!
Andre: Come on, bro. We got this. We got this.
Andre: What are you doing, man? What the hell are y'all doing? Put that thing away! Get in the car.
Man: Fuck you, pigs, man! Fuck you, pig!
Cissy: Breathe, Franklin.
Jerome: Hey, boy, get away from my nephew, boy.
Woman: Stop! Stop!
Jerome: Knock his ass out, boy.
Melody: Franklin, breathe.
Cissy: I got you. breathe, Franklin. It's okay. I got you.
Of course, the one sympathetic cop happens to be black and he saves Franklin from an Eric Garner-style choke hold death. It’s just yet another show that takes advantage of a past setting to say, “SEE, we haven’t learned that much since 1983!” by…writing a fictional account in 1983 to prove their point. They could probably pat themselves on the back by reaching that far.
And really, that only makes situations in 2017 worse when national crimes saw a slight rise after a twenty-year low. Taking the sides of agitators shouting epithets at the police and painting officers as trigger-happy certainly won’t change that figure. Then again, using the line, “I can’t breathe,” is so much easier than dealing with facts. And writing police officers as the bad guys in your story is even easier than that.
But hey, at least the show waited five episodes before trying something this blatantly political again. If you can get past the swearing, questionable morals, and brief periods of nudity, that’s…still not a good thing.