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TV Series Review

Desna Simms is tough as nails. And hey, she should know.

Desna owns a Palmetto, Fla., nail salon staffed by a cadre of colorful characters. She's also in cuticle-deep in organized crime, from the Dixie Mafia to the Russian mob. Hard to put a coat of varnish on that sort of business relationship and make it attractive.

At first, it all seemed oh so easy: Just launder a little money from the shady pain clinic nearby, make a little cash on the side, and everybody's happy, right? But despite the whole concept of laundering, business with the criminal underworld is rarely clean. Soon, the salon's swimming in a sea of sex, drugs and murder—accoutrements that don't do anything for Desna's bottom line.

Cracked nails are an occupational hazard in Desna's profession. Cracked heads? That's something she'd like to avoid.

Scratching Out a Show

Let's say this much: TNT's Claws is … unique.

Part of that may stem from its formation in HBO's content labs, where it was originally intended to be a half-hour comedy. Indeed, Desna's salon is staffed with the kinds of caricatured-but-multilayered personalities you'd expect from an ambitious comedy. There's Polly, the high-strung con artist; Virginia, the salon's young, street-wise beauty; Jennifer, the straight-talking vet; Quiet Ann, who fittingly never talks; and Desna herself, played by comic actress Niecy Nash. It's not hard to picture the cast migrating comfortably to a traditional two-camera sitcom. Five Broke Girls, if you will. And it tries to draw even more laughs—albeit sometimes uncomfortably so—from Desna's mentally disabled brother, Dean.

But Claws isn't content with just being a workplace comedy. It wants to be Breaking Bad, too, complete with Breaking veteran Dean Norris in the role of Dixie Mafia bisexual mob boss Uncle Daddy. His character is a nasty piece of work indeed, prone to chomping down on chicken wings while gators gobble his latest hit. Not a guy you want to mess with.

The result is a series that might give viewers a wacky relatively gentle storyline ("Polly tries to impress an old rich friend!") with a wacky, bloody, nihilistic one ("Jennifer's husband chops up a corpse!") in the very same episode. The results are rarely pretty.

Nailed It

I've seen television shows that are more violent than Claws. I've seen shows that are more sexual. But I don't know if I've ever seen one that combines both into a stew that feels quite so … sleazy. HBO's Game of Thrones, for all of its gratuitous excesses, takes its storytelling seriously. But in Claws, salacious shock and schlock is the point.

Desna and most of her staff dress as if they might need to pull guns from their cleavages at any moment. They talk about sex a lot during the workday, and often engage in it after (or during) business hours. All manner of sexual habits and inclinations are discussed and occasionally documented on film.

And several characters are committed to killing those who cross them, sometimes in very messy ways. Language can be eye-wateringly bad, too—so pervasive, in fact, that one of the show's episode titles uses the s-word.

What I'm saying is this: Claws is bad. Really bad. Interesting? Maybe for some. Unapologetically trashy? Absolutely. Worth watching? Hardly.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

June 10, 2018: "Shook"
Claws: July 1, 2017 "Fallout"



Readability Age Range



Niecy Nash as Desna Simms; Carrie Preston as Polly; Judy Reyes as Quiet Ann; Karrueche Tran as Virginia Loc; Jenn Lyon as Jennifer Husser; Jack Kesy as Roller Husser; Kevin Rankin as Bryce Husser; Jason Antoon as Dr. Ken Brickman; Harold Perrineau as Dean Simms; Dean Norris as Uncle Daddy/Clay Husser; Franka Potente as Zlata Ostrovsky; Sheryl Lee Ralph as Matilde Ruval






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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