“Claws” is a hit. After only five weeks, the TNT comedy-drama that’s set in and around a very fictional version of Palmetto was renewed for a second season.
Down the road, a brand-new reality show called “Siesta Key” recently finished filming its first season, and it’s being promoted through glamorous commercials that show impossibly good-looking young adults having more fun than you and I have had in our entire lives. It’s from the producers of another hit MTV reality show, “Laguna Beach,” and there’s no real reason to expect that it won’t be successful.
“Claws” has gotten strong reviews around the country, and obviously enough people — about 6.3 million people per episode — that it’s making money for the people who are making it.
Around here, it’s kind of a polarizing show. A lot of people like it and think it’s cool that it’s set here. (I’m one of those people.) We like the local references and the occasional shows of local landmarks (the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion at the Ringling was featured twice in a recent episode, posing as two different locales) and get a good-natured chuckle when the show’s characters make geographic goofs (as when one made a reference to going “up to Okeechobee”).
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But the backlash has been intense from people who don’t like the show’s graphic sex and violence.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” one viewer said in a letter to the Bradenton Herald. She called the show “filthy” and “low class” “Women (so-called) ... naked and in the ‘act’!,” she wrote.
The letter writer went on to call the show “filth,” and underlined the word.
I also got a call from a reader who said a lot of those same things, and said the show should be taken off the air. Another called and asked why I hadn’t written about the fact that “Claws” showed sex acts. (I had, in fact, written that.) Both said the show reflects badly on Palmetto, which the city’s mayor also indicated before the first episode had aired.
They have a point. That stuff doesn’t bother me but I can see how it would offend a lot of people. I was actually taken aback at some of the content of the show, considering that it airs at 9 p.m. on basic cable.
I lived in Palmetto and I don't even want to be associated with this show. It shows Palmetto in the worst possible way.
Facebook comment about “Claws”
Several callers, and that letter writer, have said that “Claws” is degrading to women. That part, I don’t get. The main women characters on the show are all cool, colorful and, if not admirable, then at least loveable in quirky way.
Facebook comments show the diversity and vehemence of opinions:
“I lived in Palmetto and I don’t even want to be associated with this show. It shows Palmetto in the worst possible way,” one woman said.
It's a fictional show...and hilarious! !! We LAUGH thru it, and we live 2 miles from Palmetto.
Facebook comment about “Claws”
“Really, people? It’s a fictional show ... and hilarious! !! We LAUGH thru it, and we live 2 miles from Palmetto. Lighten up,” wrote a man.
Both of those were typical of the opposing opinions. If anyone thinks it’s just a pretty good show and that it doesn’t do much harm or good for the area, they’re not saying so to this paper or on Facebook.
“Siesta Key” is drawing mostly negative comments on the Herald’s Facebook posts about the show. A lot of the comments are distressing, personal attacks on the cast members, even though not one second of the show has aired.
“A bunch of spoiled rich brats playing with daddy’s money,” one commenter said of the cast. “Looks like a bunch of tool rich kids,” said another.
For what it’s worth, I met all eight of the cast members and most of them were very poised, impressive and personable, and all were intelligent.
I kind of feel bad for at least some of the “Siesta Key” cast. They’re going to be famous, but a lot of people are going to resent them, and their personal lives (or some version of their personal lives) could end up on supermarket tabloid covers. One of the cast members said, “We don’t even know yet if they’re going to like us.” Of course they won’t, and it has little to do with the cast themselves. It’s television and the people who shoot and edit the show will make sure that there are some apparent villains.
It’d be great, though, if people could just relax and realize these are TV shows, both of them, and nothing more. They’re not documentaries or tourism ads. If you don’t like them, don’t watch. If you hate them, call or email the networks and complain. In the end, virtually no one is going to think that “Claws” shows the “real” Palmetto, nor that the eight 20-somethings on “Siesta Key” are meant to be a microcosm of the population in our area.