Claws is not a show to be slept on. For with Niecy Nash’s experience, combined with her co-stars, you get a program which certainly will make your jaw drop. If you don’t find it predictable.
Trigger Warning(s): Gun Violence & Violence Against Women
It has been a year. For one year Desna (Niecy Nash) has worked for Roller (Jack Kesy), under the impression that her money laundering would lead to a big payoff. To be exact, $20,000.00. Of which she would use to buy a nice salon, not one in some strip mall, but in a classy area. However, Roller ain’t the man he says he is. Much less, he isn’t even the lover boy Desna thought he could be.
Which is a damn shame because Desna didn’t just need that money for a new salon, but a new home too. You see, she shares her current house with her brother Dean (Harold Perrineau). Someone who is autistic and with their place falling apart, it rattles him. Which of course means he ends up rattling her nerves.
But she isn’t alone. The women who work for her rely on Desna too. In fact, the majority of them are in on her operation. You got Jen (Jenn Lyon), who is a blonde with a family who needs the money to support it. Polly (Carrie Preston) who has fallen from the grace and now lives what definitely is a foreign life to her. Since it seems at one time she was wealthy. Then there is Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes). She doesn’t speak much but the women love her, in more ways than one.
Lastly, there is Virginia (Karrueche Tran). She is the newest person to Desna’s salon and Desna got her eye on this girl. She late all the time, disrespectful, and always trying to be up in someone’s business. But while Desna and Virginia clash in the episode, something brings them together in the end.
Niecy Nash In Her Element
There is something about Desna that combines the comedic and dramatic talents of Nash. Comedic in her sort of bougie ghetto looks and the way she speaks to her crew. Yet, as we watch her deal with Uncle Daddy Clay Husser (Dean Norris), Virginia, Roller, and especially Dean, we see different sides of her. Something we kind of got a peak at in Masters of Sex but is on full display here.
What we see is a multi-faceted actress. Someone who can laugh, crack jokes, get serious and dramatic, yet when she is in tears, so are you. To me, she is like that crazy and lovable aunt the way she presents Desna. Someone larger than life with big plans, but the people she was expecting to support her, the major contributors, they let her down. And with her having so many expecting things from her you see that smile crack. Those hips don’t sway as much as the world gets heavy. Leaving you so invested in her finding peace and happiness it’ll be hard to not get hooked. Maybe to even not believe this might be Nash’s true breakout role.
Like many, I figured Tran’s casting was mostly for the sake of name recognition. But being that Tran’s career has mostly been using the prefix “Chris Brown’s Ex” there weren’t high hopes here. Granted, in Only for One Night, she was enjoyable, but that was as a love interest. It is kind of hard to be a bad love interest.
However, arguably, and not just from working with Nash, she proves herself here. Not enough to dispel the association to Chris Brown, but she can definitely say she could have a career without him. For like Nash, there is a certain range in her performance. Granted, to a lesser extent, but let’s not forget Nash has been working her behind off for 20 years now. [note]I cannot recommend enough Niecy Nash in this Hollywood Reporter Roundtable session.[/note]
But this isn’t to discount the other women just because those two get their own heading. Jen, Polly, and Quiet Ann are interesting too. Perhaps Polly and Quiet Ann the most clearly because they stick out so much. Polly because she seems like a debutante fallen on hard times and Quiet Ann being a roughneck woman who enjoys herself the feminine touch.
Though let’s not discount Jen. From what it seems, Jen is the one who maybe needed to be kept an eye on. Not because she may go to the feds to stay with her family. If anything, it seems she is Desna’s right-hand woman. Plus, she may be the key to really getting to know Desna past the state we have come to know her. She could very well be the one who will help us get to know Desna before she met Roller and was, so we are told, struggling.
It Low-Key Seems Predictable
One of the things that may bring down this show is you do get this vibe you can predict what happens. Like, in my mind, I fully expect a Weeds type of trajectory out of this show. Desna working with multiple dealers, working with the feds, sleeping with who she wants or sometimes needs to and the end. Assuming this gets enough seasons to play all that out.
Though I could be wrong. But as much as the makeup of this show seems different, there are certain cues which make it feel the same. However, looking at the season trailer, I definitely could be wrong.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
I’m honestly iffy on watching more episodes. If only because, on one hand, I love what Nash is doing with her character. Yet, on the other hand, I feel like this show isn’t going to challenge expectations. I mean, it may in terms of what many may have expected of Tran, but in terms of where the story will go? I don’t think so.
Which is why I’m labeling this mixed. For while there sort of feels like overwhelming evidence this show will be good, I think it depends on your viewing habits. If you don’t watch a huge amount of TV, don’t have a diverse palette [note]I sound so bougie for saying that[/note] and like these kind of shows, you’ll love this. However, the key factor which may make you “Meh” is that it seems set up to go down certain well-established roads. Of which, it could do new things on them. But whether new is better or not can only be found out by sticking around.