Crime takes many forms on television. Sometimes, criminals are just criminals, and are depicted as such: mobsters, robbers, serial murderers, what have you. Other times, there’s a front of some sort to cover up any skulduggery. Claws falls under the latter category, with female lead Desna Simms (Niecy Nash) using her nail salon to launder money and make a better life for her and her autistic baby brother Dean (Perrineau). Dean’s the kind of guy who tells it like it is, guided by an unwavering moral compass and an admirable drive to achieve his dreams.
Desna has spent most of her life taking care of Dean, but over the course of the first two seasons, viewers bear cathartic witness as he becomes his own man. Indeed, as Desna spirals into a life of crime, it’s Dean who keeps her grounded more than anyone, and when Dean’s impulsiveness comes to bear, it’s Desna who usually checks him.
Perrineau brings his all to the performance, from his dancing skills to his life experiences. On the latter point, he talked to IndieWire about a similar sibling relationship to Desna and Dean in his own family: “I have a cousin who raised her brother from the time that they were kids until he passed in his 40s. I’ve just never seen that before on television; I’ve seen it in life.” His portrayal of Dean earned him the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.