Claws TNT Series Premiere Polly Desna Niecy Nash

Claws Review: TNT's Sizzling Blend of Crime Drama and Dark Comedy Nails It

There’s a scene in the second episode of TNT’s Claws that sums up this wildly inventive, delightfully surprising show: a funeral unlike any you’ve ever seen.

This funeral features strippers dressed in black and twerking on the eulogy podium, along with a solemn reading from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography — but also a touchingly sincere song from an unexpected mourner. It’s that outlandish blend of comedy and drama, along with a top-notch cast and a colorfully vibrant filmmaking style, that makes Claws — debuting this Sunday at 9/8c — one of this summer’s most promising new shows.

Claws TNT Series Premiere Roller DesnaNiecy Nash stars as Desna, the owner of a Florida nail salon that employs a cast of memorable eccentrics, including soft-spoken sweetheart Polly (Carrie Preston), who’s wearing an ankle bracelet after a stint in jail, and Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes), the salon’s silent enforcer. But Desna’s got a side hustle, too: laundering money from illegal pain-med prescriptions for her dealer boyfriend Roller (Jack Kesy), which gets her entangled in a dangerous world of guns, drugs and cold, hard cash.

The Florida setting is key: Claws has a vivid sense of place, set in the very gaudy, downright grimy part of the Sunshine State we never glimpsed on Miami Vice. (You can almost smell the sweat.) The tackiness is mesmerizing, with rundown strip malls and underground gator-wrestling, and the show teeters just on the edge of over-the-top, without toppling over. The result: an enormously entertaining mix of Breaking Bad and Orange Is the New Black, with a sprinkling of Spring Breakers and Elmore Leonard’s Florida crime novels for good measure.

Of course, there’s a murder, and of course, it’s followed by a sloppy cover-up. But creator Eliot Laurence and showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois do a tremendous job of balancing the crime-drama and dark-comedy aspects here, sometimes even in the same scene. (At one point, two characters try to stash a dead body somewhere… only to find there’s another corpse there already.) Claws is densely packed with fascinating characters and vibrant dialogue — and the cast grabs that dialogue and sprints off with it.

Claws TNT Series Premiere Uncle Daddy Dean NorrisI could gush all day about Preston and Reyes, and Jenn Lyon as Desna’s BFF Jennifer, and the crackling chemistry these four women have together. (I instantly cared about each of them, intently.) But I also need to mention Breaking Bad alum Dean Norris, who’s riotously funny and truly menacing playing a bisexual drug kingpin (!) named Uncle Daddy (!!) with a lazy Mississippi drawl and a lava-hot temper. Plus, I need to save some space to sing the praises of Niecy Nash, who finally gets the complex leading role she so richly deserves.

Nash has been making us laugh as a sassy supporting character for years now, from Reno 911! to Scream Queens, and she’s plenty funny here, too. But when things go south for Desna, Nash’s dramatic work is an absolute revelation, and she anchors this whole weird operation with a fierce elegance. A subplot about Desna’s disabled brother, played by Lost‘s Harold Perrineau, threatens to get a bit trite, but Nash’s sisterly affection for him makes it work. She’s flat-out fantastic.

And so is her new show, which is bursting with potential, based on the first three episodes. It’s perfect for summer, the TV equivalent of a fun beach read: a little sweet, a little salty… and impossible to put down.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Stylishly filmed and obscenely funny, TNT’s Claws might be this summer’s hottest new show.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

18 Comments
  1. LADY_in_MD says:

    I am looking forward to Claws looks like it will be a fun summer show I need something now that there is no more Devious Maids and UnReal has been delayed

    • Robert Bass says:

      Right I liked that show as well Devious Maids not much to look at for the summer, although I do like Claws.

  2. Ian says:

    Ive only already seen the premiere, but I loved it too. After just watching that first scene of them strutting in and gathering in the nail salon, I was already in love this crew of women. All of them, brilliant. I want to scream my head off over Reyes though! Fantastic. I was in tears later too, when Desna gifted the bonus to her sisters.
    And Niecy carries it all and does it as only a true pro can. She can do it all.
    Guh. I could gush all day. The one problem I did have was with the over-tropey bisexual villain, like come on, we need better for our gay representation.

  3. kate says:

    I happened to catch the sneak preview this past weekend, and while it seems to mean that I have to wait another week since that was the pilot, I think I will very much enjoy it. Honestly, the commercials for it don’t do the story justice.

  4. MiaB says:

    I’ve loved Niecy Nash since Clean House. I’m so excited to see her get a leading role, and glad to hear the show is as good as I hoped it would be. I can’t wait to watch!

  5. Christian says:

    I saw the pilot the other night on TBS. Niecy is brilliant in this and Carrie is sublime as usual. Can’t wait to see more!

  6. I am excited to see this show. It looks amazing

  7. laurelnev says:

    lol…I live near the not-so-seedy city where this show is set. I need to watch this, as that city is so upset about its portrayal. (Yes, despite the fact we call it Palm-ghetto around here.) Just wished they had filmed in FL rather than NOLA.

  8. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    LOVE the pilot episode! Niecy Nash is always AND still cracks me up. Judy Reyes holy Sh*t at first I was like she looks familiar……loved her on Scrubs that was my SHOW in H.S!!! Can’t wait to see the rest of the season….Finally the summer shows are kicking in this week!

  9. Kyle says:

    You had me a true Bisexual Drug Kingpin. Sounds like my kinda show, briing it on!

  10. Kriston Troy Brannan says:

    I genuinely had no knowledge of, or interest in, this show, but after reading this review, it’s going to be a must watch over the long summer. This cast is amazing! Hollywood, take note: THIS is how you put together a female lead ensemble! This isn’t a female cast put together because of their looks, or to make a political statement, or to show that “women can be funny too!”. Each of these women are incredible actresses, and the chance to see them together in this weird Elmore Leonard-ish sounding dark comedy, is just too good to pass up. All this AND Dean Norris, holy crap!

  11. Brent says:

    I was willing to give it a shot just because of Niecy Nash and Carrie Preston. The good review just helps for sure.

  12. Gina says:

    Man, my radar is just OFF this year. Just from the previews I’ve seen, I thought it looked so so bad. I even thought this was the subject of the blind item from a few weeks back.
    A- is pretty damn good. Now, will I swallow my pride and give it a watch?

  13. Jesse Pinkman says:

    Dean Norris…..YEAH BABY !

  14. Ginnie dreves frisco says:

    I live the show. But the limited commercials is outrageous they are every 5 mins apart so infact i believe there are more. It majes me want to change the channel. The same thing goes on with animal kingdom! So not cool! It seriously needs to be addressed. Thx

  15. Victoria says:

    Loved the entire package; looking for more.

  16. Lynn says:

    Loved it. This is how you portray a complex female cast. I had no intention of watching it and now I can’t wait for next week. Question – was the reason for Polly’s incarceration ever addressed? I remember the scene where she was crying because she has to provide restitution but what was it that she did? By the way hysterically funny when she made up that story with the girl scouts or whatever they were. And I know we shouldn’t but I love Virginia…she’s gonna be a real wild card

  17. Robert Bass says:

    I like Claws but it seems everything I like they take off, the only thing they keep are those dumb reality shows.