Lat­est crime ca­per fol­lows the ins and outs of mani-pedis and money laun­der­ing

USA TODAY US Edition - - LIFE - Lorena Blas @byLore­naBlas

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.

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