Carrie Preston doesn’t know too much about Manatee County, but she knows that what people see in her hit show “Claws” doesn’t reflect what really goes on here.
“If you come into it expecting realism, you’re going to be disappointed in the first five minutes,” Preston said in a phone interview.
She was laughing as she said it, reacting to reports that some people in Palmetto think “Claws” paints their town in a bad light. The show is deliberately and obviously fanciful, she said.
Preston plays Polly, one of the gang of endearingly shady women who make up the crew at Nail Artisans of Manatee, the nail and money-laundering operation that is set in the fictional town of Palmetto in “Claws.”
The show is filmed mostly in Louisiana, so Preston hasn’t spent much time here, but it never occurred to her that “Claws” was realistic.
Season 2 debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday on TNT.
Polly’s a compulsive liar and low-level con artist, but she’s one of the show’s most likeable characters.
“Polly’s constantly re-inventing herself,” Preston said. “She reinvents herself every day. She’s an identity thief. So I can take some liberties”
She credits the writing staff primarily with making Polly and the rest of the salon staff – including Desna (Niecy Nash), the salon owner who launders money for a nearby barely legal pain clinic, former prostitute Virginia (Karreuche Tran), and butch lesbian Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes), the salon’s “muscle” — as attractive as they are, despite their often shady activities.
“It all starts with the words,” Preston said. “If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage.”
Besides that, she said, the love the characters on the show have for each other, despite their disparities, appeals to viewers.
It was the show’s writing that immediately drew her to the role of Polly. She had just come off her Emmy-winning role as Elsbeth on “The Good Wife,” and her recurring role as Grace Hendriks on “Person of Interest” (which stars her husband, Michael Emerson), when she read the script for the first episode of “Claws.”
“It was different than anything I had ever read,” she said. “I think the bravery of all these women makes them attractive, but so do their flaws. We’ve gotten so used to heroes being perfect, especially women. I like to surprise people.”
“Claws” got off to a bit of a shaky start, with some viewers not quite sure what to make of the blend of silly comedy and often shocking crime drama. But it became one of the most popular new basic cable shows of 2017.
It was renewed for a second season only a few weeks into the first. TNT released a preview video with the tagline “The Russians are coming,” hinting perhaps that the manicurists may be getting even more deeply involved in the organized crime world that they were reluctantly pulled into in the first season.
The trailer also indicated that the action will heat up, literally and figuratively. In one scene, Nash appears to firebomb the home of Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris).
Preston can’t say too much about what happens in the second season, but she said the writers are sure to come up with great new plot twists.
Besides, she said, the actors who plays the leading roles love the show as much as fans do, and that’s part of what gives “Claws” its appeal.
“We’re having a great time,” she said. “And I think that comes across on the screen.”