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How John Waters and Patricia Highsmith Helped Sell Claws to TNT


Eliot Laurence, the creator of Claws, managed to sell a crime drama to TNT that centers on women, people of color, and queer people. And, as he revealed at the drama's Los Angeles premiere, he did it with many gay and imaginative references.

"I walked into TNT, and I said, 'Imagine if John Waters and Patricia Highsmith had one magical night together at a Florida beach motel. This show is their love child,'" the writer told the crowd at the Harmony Gold theater in Los Angeles, referencing the gay Pink Flamingos filmmaker and Carol writer, respectively.

The upcoming TNT series, which might be called a feminist Breaking Bad, shows women breaking the glass ceiling of organized crime in Palmetto, Fla. It stars Niecy Nash as Desna Simms, a manicurist who leads a salon sisterhood (Carrie Preston, Jenn Lyon, Judy Reyes, Karrueche Tran) in operating a black market for prescription pain medication. Boasting breakthrough LGBT representation, the drama features a queer kingpin (Dean Norris) and a badass lesbian friend and confidante named Quiet Ann (Reyes).

Laurence, a former writer on The Big Gay Sketch Show, also painted a colorful portrait of the show's real-world setting to executives, which helped sell the series.

"There’s this county on the Gulf Coast of Florida where there have been three unrelated penis-biting incidents since 2013. Unrelated. That’s where the show has to happen," he recounted telling them. "It’s about muffin tops and tube tops and menthol cigarettes and bad ideas. I said it’s Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In through a dark fun-house mirror."

Other networks might balk at the queer references, bold setting, and nontraditional casting. But not TNT.

"They said yes. They kept saying yes. And for that I am so grateful," he said to the applause of the crowd.

Watch the trailer below. Don't miss the premiere June 11, 9 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

Tags: television

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