TNT BARING ITS ‘CLAWS’ IN AN UNLIKELY SETTING: A NAIL SALON
Latest crime caper follows the ins and outs of mani-pedis and money laundering
On TNT’s Claws, a Florida nail salon’s business extends beyond French tips and gels.
The series, which airs Episode 2 Sunday (9 ET/PT), revolves around five women working at a salon in a very low-rent strip shopping center, as owner Desna, (Niecy Nash) launders drug money between mani-pedis.
Claws joins other recent cable series focusing on illegal drug operations in unexpected places: The matriarch on TNT’s Animal
Kingdom manages rental properties in Southern California; and Gus Fring of AMC’s Better Call
Saul owns a fast-food chicken restaurant in Albuquerque.
It’s a different kind of role for Nash, who many know as a comedic actress in shows including Reno 911!
“It has been a delicious blessing,” Nash says of her role as the manicurists’ den mother and tough-as-nails businesswoman.
Nash describes her character as a mother figure.
“She doesn’t have any of her own children, but she mothers all of the women in her salon and her (autistic) brother (Harold Perrineau, Lost). She’s loyal. She’s fierce. She’s sexy. She’s complicated for sure, and she definitely is a fighter and a survivor.”
Joining Desna in the salon are preppy con artist and ex-con Polly (Carrie Preston, The Good
Wife), loyal friend and busy mom Jen (Jenn Lyon, Justified), former stripper Virginia (Karrueche Tran, Nice Guys) and driver and protector Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes, Devious Maids).
Desna’s boyfriend Roller (Jack Kesy) runs a drug operation for Dixie Mafia kingpin Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris), using the salon to launder money from drug deals in a medical clinic in the shopping center. But Desna desperately wants out of the operation, and to move her shop to a more upscale part of town.
TNT’s original programming chief Sarah Aubrey describes the comedic drama as a departure for the cable network.
After focusing on crime dramas such as The Closer and Rizzo
li & Isles, “We wanted to bring in a new group of shows that really took advantage of the appetite” for serialized dramas. But “there were kind of a lot of darker, heavier shows in the drama space, so we thought there was an opportunity to program what we feel are smart, complicated dramas that also are unapologetically entertaining.”
For creator Eliot Laurence, the appeal “was a fascination with any kind of story of female empowerment” and “nail culture, a multibillion-dollar business that is so strange and beautiful yet nurturing.“
The girl-power theme resonated for Preston when she read the script, but she explained the
Claws women’s survival also has to do with teamwork.
It worked that way in real life, too. As cast members prepped for the show, Nash says, “We all got to go to nail school and we all ended up waxing eloquent in one discipline. I’m the best at acrylics. Carrie is the best at gels. Jen is the best at a manicure. We all ended up finding our niche.”
Ex-con Polly (Carrie Preston, left) and Desna (Niecy Nash) are manicurists and money launderers in Claws.
Desna (Nash), Jen (Jenn Lyon) and Polly (Preston) have their hands in some bad business.