If you haven’t checked out TNT’s new series Claws, you’re in for a surprise. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead as we delve into this Florida-based series that explores the working relationship between five women.
Set in Manatee County, Claws peels back the seedy layers of underground Florida life while showing that, when it comes down to it, women stick together. Originally slated for HBO, TNT picked up the series produced by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack’s Le Train Train production company. Featuring an all-star cast headed by Niecy Nash, Claws is bringing a new heat to summer television, and it’s right on time.
Florida is known for being the “pill mill” capital of the United States, and there isn’t a Florida native who hasn’t personally witnessed or known someone caught up in the devastating impact of addiction. Florida is also known for its expansive network of strip joints. With people like Joe Redner — who is credited as being the “Father of the Nude Strip Club” and creator of the lap dance, as reported by Deadspin — hailing from Tampa, everyone in Florida knows someone who is, was, or will be a stripper (or exotic dancer). These two aspects of everyday Florida life are perfectly presented in Claws, and the series taps into the surreal feeling being a Floridian brings.
From the Jewish, Messianic coffee shop (don’t forget, President Trump’s Pastor Paula White also hails from Florida) to the Gulf Coast mansions, Claws takes a stab at the unreal and often bizarre experiences of Florida life as well as the relationships that form in a state where Jim Bakker met Jessica Hahn and subsequently lost his position at the Praise The Lord (PTL) Network. Claws gives us Florida in its true sense, from the oxycodone addict and the strippers — who are still in search of a sugar daddy to make their fairy-tale dreams come true — to the hard-working women who know that the straight-and-narrow road rarely leads to financial success. And that is where Claws picks up in Season 1, Episode 1.
Niecy Nash plays Desna Simms, who owns the Nail Artisans nail salon. Working for her is Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes), Jen (Jenn Lyon), Carrie Preston (Polly), and Karrueche Tran (Virgina). Desna’s dreams of moving up in the world, and she wants to bring her team of girls with her. She has her eye on a new salon but needs downpayment in order to secure the deal. She agreed to a money-laundering scheme with Roller (played by Jack Kesy) as a way of getting quick cash, then planned to go straight.
Roller works for Uncle Daddy (played by Dean Norris), who hasn’t agreed to the same financial terms Roller offered. Roller has a fetish for being choked during sex, and in addition to instructing Desna’s illicit activities, he drops in for sex with her whenever he feels like it. Desna was promised $20,000 to continue the money-laundering scheme, which includes funneling money out of an oxycodone-based pain mill clinic run by Dr. Ken Brickman (played by Jason Antoon). Desna’s complex character is well-rounded, and Claws has plenty of plot material with Desna’s relationships with Roller, Dr. Ken, and Uncle Daddy to give the show legs. However, it’s her relationship with the women that really makes Claws stand up and get noticed.
Polly has just been released from prison for identity theft, while Virginia worked for Desna while Polly was gone. Virgina, who is a former stripper and still dresses the part, has plans of her own. She only worked for Desna while Polly was locked up and apparently was threatened by Polly’s return.
Virginia moves in on Desna’s relationship with Roller, and the results are severe. Desna wasn’t playing, and not only did she throw Virginia out of the salon, she gave her a beatdown in the parking lot while reminding her that it was she who gave her a trade. While it seemed that Desna and Virginia’s relationship was set in stone, things took a dramatic and stunning turn when the women were faced with Roller’s wrath.
Claws might be a bit more serious than some are expecting, and though it’s described as a dramedy or black comedy, it’s more a drama than a comedy. It’s easy to see why Claws was initially slated for HBO, and fortunately for basic cable subscribers, TNT picked it up. Viewers are looking forward to seeing these relationships play out over the summer.
Claws airs on TNT, Sunday nights at 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT. Check local listings for time and channel number. You can also find Claws online at TNT and on demand.
Did you watch the Claws premiere? What do you think of the new show?
[Featured Image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images]