INTERVIEW: Jenn Lyon On Claws Season 2, her Costars and that Cliffhanger
WARNING: Claws Spoilers
One of the surprise hits of the summer is TNT’s Claws.
This feels like the perfect time for a show that features five badass females. Just consider the current blockbuster performance of Wonder Woman and a slew of TV shows where women are the center of the action like Netflix’s GLOW, OWN’s Queen Sugar, VH1’s Daytime Divas and Syfy’s Friday night lineup that puts an emphasis on action:Â Killjoys, Dark Matter and Wynonna Earp.
Claws deals in manicures and pedicures with a side hustle of money laundering. Niecy Nash’s Desna dreams of opening a bigger and better salon so she can solidify the futures for herself, her friends and her developmentally-challenged brother Dean.
Unfortunately, things tend to go spectacularly wrong on the way to ensuring these dreams become a reality. The characters get involved in dangerous pursuits like prescription pill pushing, murder, betrayal and kidnappings. Serious stuff for a series that has quite a healthy comedic aspect to it, which is why in any given episode fun, quirky situations like choreographed dances and synchronized swimming often pop up.
The women who work at Nail Artisan of Manatee County are distinct, dramatic, fierce, funny and flawed. They have their own style that isn’t seen on any other TV show. This includes Jennifer, the married mother of two. One of her children’s fathers is in prison. Her current husband is a wannabe life coach that can’t shake his mafia ties thanks to his “godfather” of an uncle everyone calls Uncle Daddy.
The day we interviewed Claws star Jenn Lyon, her show’s early renewal was announced in the press. Lyon reacts to the good news and also shares why she loves each of her costars, talks about last week’s doozy of a cliffhanger, she teases what’s coming up in tonight’s episode, and she analyzes her character as well as why she feels the Desna/Jen friendship is so strong but is also on the verge of being tested.
TV GOODNESS: First of all I want to say congratulations because the word is out. Claws has been renewed for a second season already. How does it feel?
JENN LYON: It feels good. I feel relieved. I feel super-excited and super-relieved ’cause I definitely wanted to do another season and get to be with these ladies, and so it just feels really good. It feels kind of unreal.
TV GOODNESS: Every Sunday I always know Claws is airing because it trends on Twitter, which is huge, and it feels like the show has quickly developed a vocal and passionate audience. Why do you think that is?
LYON: I think that you just haven’t seen this group of women on TV before. And we’re such a diverse cast and we represent real women. You know what I mean. And that’s something that you don’t see a lot. Like our natural weights, our different colors. And the women are the ones doing the badass things. We’re not just the accessory to the man that’s doing it. We are scraping such a vibe in a way that I think is interesting and super-watchable and relatable.
TV GOODNESS: How much fun is it to work on this show, because you guys get to do some crazy things. I think it was episode 5 where you guys got to do a choreographed dance to “Lady Marmalade.”
LYON: Oh my god. We have the best time. I know it’s always so boring when you hear actresses be like, you know what, we really are like sisters. But we just have the best time. We laugh so hard. We play. We dance. We love to sing songs. Everybody in the cast is equally mischievous and ridiculous, so there’s not like one asshole in the whole bunch, which is great.
TV GOODNESS: Can you talk about that choreographed dance that you guys just did in the nail salon? What do you remember about filming that?
LYON: We had a choreographer come in day of. We knew we were gonna have to do it. And she gave us some moves and we would say moves we liked better. ‘Cause it’s five women and we’ve all got something to say. We learned it over lunch, I think, and then just did it over and over and over. It was really hot. We tried not to look too sweaty.
We had a great time. But you know, you’d do a take and I’d realize I did my arm the wrong way on the swing around. And then Carrie [Preston] would do one and she’d be like ‘Ugh! I forgot to put my leg out in that one.’ So [we] had to keep doing it. But we were just there supporting each other and it was really fun and stupid.
TV GOODNESS: When the episode aired, did you watch it? Do you like the way the dance turned out?
LYON: I love the way it turned out. And also, we got to pick our own poses at the end that we do, and it’s just like, I kind of rewound it, watched it over and over because it’s just so indicative of each character. What each girl picked is so unique to her personhood and I think it’s really funny. And I love the way it turned out. I love that it’s cut with the murder. I think that that’s kind of a genius way to do it.
TV GOODNESS: And there was another crazy scene. Jennifer went to visit Uncle Daddy and he was lying outside and there was a whole synchronized swimming sequence that was going on.
LYON: That’s what’s interesting too about Claws, is that there are these surreal moments. Even in the pilot when Judy [Reyes] as Quiet Ann was singing the “La Tirana” song. And she was singing at the camera. It’s this real surreal moment, this water ballet, this choreographed dance. It’s like, is it happening? Is it really happening that way, or is this like a peek into a weirder Claws world? I think that’s really cool and edgy. And I love that about the show.
TV GOODNESS: There are so many elements to the show. There’s the wacky elements. There’s the female friendships. The workplace drama. The family drama….
LYON: Yeah man, there’s something for everyone.
TV GOODNESS; There’s the thriller drug-dealer aspect of it. What aspect of the show do you enjoy the most and why?
LYON: The aspect of the show I enjoy the most, I guess, is being with the girls. I just love that stuff. I love when you get to see female camaraderie and sisterhood in that way. But I also really love my husband, played by Kevin Rankin, and I just love doing stuff with him. He’s the most giving, funny, wonderful actor and we just have a wonderful time together. I just feel honored to get to be his wife.
TV GOODNESS: Talk about that relationship. What about it do you enjoy? Or do you think people will relate to?
LYON: I think what I love about the relationship between Bryce and Jen is that it starts off and it’s so, they’re just so sweet with each other. But it’s also, they have a second hand with each other, like any couple that’s been together for a minute, and they’re also both addicts in recovery. There’s a tenuousness to their sobriety, which I think makes them hold on to each other tighter. And also you see in the first couple of episodes, it’s just like Jen just wears the pants, man. I think that’s fun to see. But then as the show progresses, she starts to kind of lose control of her man and the family and then like how we deal with those things being tested, you’re about to see.
TV GOODNESS: Yeah, I feel like it’s going into that direction now.
LYON: Yeah, it is. I’m losing him!
TV GOODNESS: We’ll talk more about that drama in a little bit. Tell me what you love about playing Jen.
LYON: I love that she is rough and ready, you know what I mean? She will smack a bitch up in a minute. Like, in a hot minute. If it’s threatening the survival of her immediate family, which is these women. She’s fiercely loyal. She is funny. She’s like thick but will still rock a crop top. She has a ballsy way in the world that I don’t have as myself, but it makes it so fun to play.
TV GOODNESS: And talk about the friendship between Jen and Desna, because I think that’s kind of a key part of the show.
LYON: Desna is like Jen’s roll-dog. That’s like her Ride or Die, and Desna saved Jen, really. I was hopelessly addicted to alcohol and drugs. I have a terrible backstory. A series of terrible stepdads and abuse. And when I met Desna, she really helped me learn to value myself and she taught me a trade and I’m in debt to her because she’s my best friend in the whole world and I would just do anything for her. And I think in turn, what I give Desna, is loyalty and a bright side of things and I take care of [her brother] Dean. We created a little family unit. But she knew me before Bryce. She knew me back when sh*t was bad, and so we’re just always rooting for each other.
TV GOODNESS: But that friendship, that connection seems like it might be on shaky ground. Because Desna’s keeping some heavy-duty secrets from Jen. Ones that are going-
LYON: Absolutely, and secrets that like could ruin my family.
TV GOODNESS: Exactly. So what can you tease about what’s ahead for Jen and Desna?
LYON: Like any sort of snowball that’s rolling downhill, it’s gonna get bigger and bigger until it knocks itself out. And you’re gonna see their loyalty to each other really be tested.
TV GOODNESS: That makes me sad, but it’s gonna have to happen. I know it’s inevitable.
LYON: It was hard to do scenes like that with Niecy [Nash] because I’m just so crazy about her and I love her so much. It’s like even hard to just emotionally do it.
TV GOODNESS: We also found out at the end of this week’s episode that Roller is still alive, which is crazy!
LYON: Dun dun dun!!
TV GOODNESS: Meanwhile, Desna pretty much set up her evil foster parents. I mean, she justified it by saying the cops will arrest them, but I have to think she would have known Uncle Daddy would be going after these two.
LYON: That was also a question in my mind. Like did she really think they were gonna get murdered? Did she think that far ahead? What’s going on in that noodle?
TV GOODNESS: I know! And so, what can you tease about this next episode, right after this big cliffhanger that you guys dropped on us?
LYON: Well you’re gonna see more of Roller’s predicament, that he has found himself in. And you’ll also see Jen’s about to find out some sh*t.
TV GOODNESS: Okay, good!
LYON: So, yeah. That’s coming. And also you get to see Karrueche on roller-skates and it’s really cute.
TV GOODNESS: Oh, that’s awesome. Now let’s get back to Bryce. I basically think that after killing the foster parents, he’s like all into this world now.
LYON: Well, you’ll have to find out. I think that he’s…when I saw the scene of him killing [Dean and Desna’s foster parents] and how dead his face went, I was like ‘Oh no.’ You know? But I think Jen will do anything. She’ll keep trying to pull him out. She’s not gonna go down without a fight.
TV GOODNESS: So what is a moment from this season that you feel really defines your character? That really lets us know who Jen is as a person?
LYON: I think when she is outside at the Shrimp Shack with Desna, talking to her about teaching Bryce how to run the clinic, and they’re laughing together, but she’s really asking for something. But they are just so comfortable. And you see that history there and you see the playfulness, but also the real love. I think that that encapsulates Jen.
TV GOODNESS: And I just love all the women that you work with on this show. You guys are amazing.
LYON: They’re just incredible. I’m so lucky. We just couldn’t have asked for a better cast of women. Everybody is so kind and funny and like they look out for each other. And it’s just great.
TV GOODNESS: I’m just gonna go down the line. If you could just say a little bit about each of the women. Niecy Nash.
LYON: She’s everybody’s Momma. We even call her Momma ’cause if anything happens, she wants to know about it. If your stomach hurts, she’s got something in her purse for it. If you want to talk about a scene, she’s there for that. If you want to ask about a hairdo, she is just the Momma. And we just love her for it.
TV GOODNESS: Carrie Preston?
LYON: Oh my God. Carrie Preston is a ridiculous person. Not only is she an extraordinarily gifted dramatic actress, but she’s one of the most stupid-funny people I’ve ever met. And she’s always ready to play. She’s just amazing.
TV GOODNESS: How about Judy Reyes? I mean, I’ve never seen Judy do something like this. This is so different for her and she’s doing an amazing job.
LYON: I know. She’s so amazing. She’s so great. And she’s so blunt, too. That’s what I love about Judy, you just always know where you stand with her. She does not suffer fools. She doesn’t pretend to be anybody she’s not. She is just your real down home girlfriend and I just love that about her. And she’s killing this role.
TV GOODNESS: She really is. And how about Karrueche Tran?
LYON: Karrueche? Is so wonderful. I wish she wasn’t, because that body and how beautiful she is, I’m just like ‘Can you have a flaw?’ Like, ‘Can there be something wrong with you Karrueche?’ But there’s nothing wrong with her. She is the most kind, wonderful, funny girl. And she’s really bloomed as an actress. She has just … She impressed the hell out of me. I was like ‘Get it Karrueche.’ She has just become a really great little actress.
TV GOODNESS: That’s great. So the show is built around a nail salon. Are you a nails girl? And if not, what’s your favorite way to get pampered?
LYON: I’m kind of a nails girl now. I wasn’t. I have hands that definitely know manual labor. They’re just stubby and bad. But now, I mean, wearing those nails for so long it makes you want to get your nails done. I might get my nails done tomorrow. That’s what I’m gonna do. I’mma get a full set.
TV GOODNESS: Finally, well, we’re midway through Claws, season one. What would you say to people who haven’t started yet, but are thinking about getting into it, and why should they binge the first half and get ready for the second half?
LYON: Oh my gosh. ‘Cause I would just be like y’all need to catch up, because sh*t is going down and you don’t want to be out of the loop!
Claws airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on TNT.
Edited for space and content.
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