Claws Out

A New TV Show Set in Manatee County Tackles Sex, Drugs and Beauty Products

Show creator Eliot Laurence chose to set the Claws in the Sarasota-Manatee area after falling in love with the region during trips here with his mother.

By Cooper Levey-Baker June 5, 2017 Published in the June 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Claws will premiere on June 11 on TNT.

Flip on TNT on June 11 for a glimpse of your hometown. The network’s newest show, Claws, tracks a crew of tough, flamboyant women led by Desna Sims, the owner of the fictional Nail Artisan of Manatee County. The salon is more than just a salon, though. It’s also a hustle—a way for Sims to launder money for the pill mill down the way, a deal she’s cut in order to purchase a more luxurious salon on St. Armands Circle.

“I was interested in the amazing female world that is the nail salon,” says show creator Eliot Laurence, who dreamed up the concept for Claws four years ago. “It’s been fun to peek into the window and see what’s there.”

Laurence also knew he wanted to set the series in Florida, and he picked the Sarasota-Manatee area after falling in love with the region during trips here with his mother. He was drawn by Florida’s beauty, but also by its clash of cultures and its tendency toward the strange and macabre.

Claws is filled with absurdity and black humor, with characters that include a bisexual pain-pill kingpin from Biloxi, a prim manicurist who happens to be an ex-con and Sims’ boyfriend, a perpetually horny and shirtless redneck gangster. Claws explores the sleaze and tragedy of pill mills, although with a lighter touch than law enforcement agencies might like. The bright, revealing costumes, the strip clubs and fried shrimp hangouts, the well-curated hip hop soundtrack—Claws draws a portrait of the region as a libidinous, multicultural community where breaking the law is an OK path to your dream of owning a home on the water. Exaggerated? Sure. But not 100 percent far-fetched, either.

While the bulk of the 10-episode first season is being shot in New Orleans for financial reasons, the crew shot some exteriors around town. You’ll see St. Armands shops and a Harbor Acres mansion, and in the pilot, one of the characters downs a can of beer from JDub’s after plugging in her vibrator. Welcome to Southwest Florida.

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