TV: Claws – Multi-ethnic steel magnolia trash

The Florida Man was a Twitter account that influenced the creator of the TVNZ On Demand TV series Claws, Eliot Laurence. One of his series writers Janine Sherman Barrois said, “He told me he used to read the Florida Man [Twitter account], he’s seen all these cases of women who bit off their spouse or partner’s d— in Florida. And it inspired him to write about that area in that sort of Florida-noir, Elmore Leonard kind of quirky, dark humorous way.. that’s sort of where it all sort of evolved from.”

Claws is fucking hilarious. Below the four actresses speak about finally having a seat at the table in the interview and being able to truly be themselves at work. Niecy Nash plays Desna, the protagonist, she explains they’re real women on set, not size 2, they DO eat on camera and have complicated relationships. The show is about women coming together and blends a diverse cast of women without it feeling forced.

The wardrobe was by costume designer, Dana Covarrubias. In an interview with toofab.com she said: “I honestly don’t think there’s any other show on television that’s like this show, and/or is representing the kind of women that are in this show… I would say in the first few fittings we were still trying to perfectly figure it out because we really didn’t want these characters to look and feel like cartoon characters or like we were poking fun at these people.

There is obviously heavy tongue-and-cheek cheese factor to the show but as far as the costumes went, we wanted to have fun with them. We wanted them to be fun and crazy but we also wanted them to be real. That was the only challenge in the beginning; trying to figure out where that line is exactly.”

The Claws team struck the balance so well. The woman balance their portrayal of real life challenges and hood-rich glamour. In the YouTube interview above they advise up and coming actors to “learn your craft  and study because we are in a microwave generation and everything is shorter, quicker, faster”. 

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Karrueche’s character Virginia is written into the show as an outcast who grew up with no family, she’s drawn to the love and support she sees the group giving each other and Desna’s ‘sisterhod. She works hard to get into the clique, despite the elephant in the room that no one likes her. The writing-in of her character shows an open minded and warm understanding of the real life dynamics between women. It’s like producers knew viewers wouldn’t want to give her a chance, so they wrote her in accordingly. She spends the first half of season one trying hard to make the others love her but ends up being the brat you expect.  Eventually you love her. But you hate her first.

It is currently up to season two, episode four on TVNZ On Demand and I haven’t unexpectedly laughed so hard, like from the gut, in a long time. Mainstream media needs more content like this, more Outrageous Fortune, Baby Mama’s Club type-humor and realistic media void of colonial editing.

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And them there’s kombucha boy, Harold Perrineau who plays Desna’s autistic brother. Juxtaposed in a nail solon, I’m used to seeing Perrineau play foreboding, criminalistic-type characters like Mercutio in Baz Luhrmaan’s Romeo and Juliet or an action hero in The Matrix.

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From left: Virginia (Karrueche Tran), Polly (Carrie Preston), Desna (Niecy Nash), Jenn (Jenn Lyon), and Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes).

FURTHER READING:

This interview from the Essence Festival with Queen Latifah, Monica, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary J. Blige, Niecy Nash, Dee Rees and Kristi Henderson talks about the importance of telling stories the writers “could identify with that couldn’t be relegated or ghettoised”.

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