Is ‘Snowfall’ Better Than ‘The Wire’?

The Wire reshaped how we watched TV when it first debuted in 2002 and since then, there has been no other show like it. Still, there is now chatter that Snowfall, which debuted on FX in 2017 might be on par with the beloved crime series.

But is Snowfall really better than The Wire?

Damson Idris attends the premiere of FX's "Snowfall"
Damson Idris | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

‘Snowfall’ is based on a true story

Set in the 1980’s Snowfall is the brainchild of late Boyz N the Hood director, John Singleton. The series chronicles the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central, LA. The show centers on Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), a young street entrepreneur on a quest for power and wealth.

Though Singleton dreamed up the series from his own personal experiences coming-of-age in LA during that time, Franklin’s character is based on drug kingpin Freeway Rick Ross.

“Between 1982 and 1989, federal prosecutors estimated, Ross bought and resold several metric tons of cocaine,” Esquire reported. “Ross’ gross revenue claimed to be more than $900 million (equivalent to $2.7 billion in 2019). During the height of his drug dealing, Ross was said to have sold “$3 million in one day.”

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‘The Wire’ was praised because it was so realistic

Though it aired 20 years ago, The Wire is still known as one of the best shows to ever exist, and it’s still praised for its realism. The Wire didn’t have the main character but instead was a thoughtful ensemble drama set on the streets of Baltimore.

Creator David Simon relied on his real-life experiences from working for The Baltimore Sun newspaper. Meanwhile, his co-writer, Ed Burns, relied on his time working in law enforcement and education in the city.

“[Ed] did a lot of these protracted investigations, often of more than a year’s time, into violent drug traffickers,” Simon told Salon back in 2002. “[The Wire] was largely based on his experiences and his frustrations in the department. It became more of a treatise about institutions and individuals than a straight cop show.”

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Is ‘Snowfall’ better than ‘The Wire’?

Since both Snowfall and The Wire have captivated audiences, we can see why fans have tried to compare the two shows. There is a major debate about the series online, and Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker even jumped in to add his two cents about the TV shows.

“[The Wire creator] David Simon, as a veteran journalist and the author of Homicide and The Corner, is much more akin to [Goodfellas co-screenwriter] Nick Pileggi,” he shared via TV Line. “Simon was around the real cops, the real Barksdales, and even features street legends as themselves in the show…Much the same way that [director Martin] Scorsese used a lot of real gangsters and ex-gangsters throughout Goodfellas. It’s closer to the ground and a lot more realistic. But The Godfather has a resonance and poetry that also haunts me, in the same way, it haunted John.”

Actor Michael Hyatt who portrayed Brianna Barksdale in The Wire and stars on Snowfall as Franklin’s mother, Cissy Saint gave a candid response about comparing the shows. “Time will tell,” she told TV Line. “Think about it. We are sitting here in 2021 talking about The Wire, which started in 2002. That was almost 20 years ago. But we are still experiencing Snowfall and all that is happening on the series as it exists.”