A nail salon isn’t just any setting for TNT’s new dramedy "Claws." The darkly humorous crime drama features professional nail designs that reflect events in the show and even play into the plot. Set in a Manatee County, Fla., nail salon, "Claws" focuses on five manicurists who become embroiled in a money-laundering scheme with the barely legal pain clinic that shares their strip mall. Set to air June 11, 2017, the show is produced by Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, and Eliot Laurence. Stars include Niecy Nash, Carrie Preston, Jenn Lyon, Judy Reyes, and Karrueche Tran.
Writer and co-executive producer Eliot Laurence says the show was partially inspired by Ibiza Nails, a salon he frequently passed by in his West Hollywood, Calif., neighborhood. “I was always struck by how many different kinds of women went in there,” he says. “There was a lot of racial diversity, age diversity, and financial diversity, and it was a place where all these women came together.” Laurence had always been fascinated by stories about female friendship, so a salon seemed like an ideal setting.
The show’s creators took care to portray the setting accurately, and the actresses visited a nail school to learn how to perform techniques correctly. “They were all nail enthusiasts in their own lives, especially Niecy Nash, but they didn’t know how to do the stuff until we sent them to nail school,” explains Laurence.
Nail techs play an important part behind the scenes as well as onscreen. Professional nail artists created designs for the show, all on press-on nails (the pace of production doesn’t allow for nail changes otherwise). Working on the show has been a fun challenge for key nail artist Gracie J and assistant Elissa Schell, who work on set creating nails and applying nails sent by other techs. It’s a good opportunity to introduce people to the nail art world, according to Gracie J. “We get to show you what's trending and cool,” she says. “We're setting the tone and gaining notoriety for all our underdog nail artists.” The challenge is efficient time management, she adds. “The TV and film industry is so fast paced, you have to learn to catch up and be ahead of what's going on,” she explains. “No one has time for excuses — you just have to always be prepared.”
Schell agrees. “It definitely tests your agility and quickness,” she says. “Things are constantly changing on set, so you have to always be quick on your toes and ready for whatever comes your way.” She enjoys the variety of working on a TV show. “One day you can be on set in the woods and the next on a beautiful beach,” she says. “It keeps the days and work interesting!”
Laurence praises Gracie J’s ability to bring together separate designers on the team and Schell’s “incredible eye” and calm personality. Other nail artists who sent nails for the show include celebrity manicurist Bianca “Beedy” Williams, who also provided nails for the show’s pilot and “set the tone for nail art in the whole series,” according to Laurence; Cristy Sanchez, who is skilled at clean line work and 3-D nails; and editorial manicurist Mei Kawagiri, who is “that person we can ask for a nail look that’s going to still be cool a year from now,” Laurence says.
“We feel so lucky that we’ve been able to attract these incredible nail artists,” says Laurence. “If anything, we want to elevate what an incredible world nail art is — we wanted to make a platform for that beauty and creativity.”