When I heard about Boss Nails, Oxygen’s newest series (premiering tonight (Tue., Aug. 11 at 9pm ET/PT), I was a little excited for the chance to weave in the usual puns — “nailed it”, etc. — and make all sorts of references to women bringing out their claws. I mean, it’s a reality series about nails, and it promises drama … so …… ? Eh. I’m not huge on panning shows right out of the gate (I’m big on second chances, plus I know many people’s tastes are far different from mine — the fact that the Kardashians are ever on TV proves as much) so I’m not going to say that this show is not worth watching. I’m just going to say it wasn’t for me. Someone will like it. I have at least 3 friends that I guarantee will love it, in fact. It follows your basic reality template (“Let’s pretend this wasn’t preplanned or scripted and ignore the production assistants and cameras”) and is packed full of creative characters with attitude. So if you like reality TV and crazy fingernails, this might be a show for you.
Boss Nails is the story of Dana Cody, a 26-year-old who already has a staff of 20 under her thumb(nail). The term “Boss Nails” refers to her, the boss: She runs Tippie Toes, a nail salon she inherited and took over 5 years ago when her mother passed away, which is said to be Miami’s hottest nail salon. (Whenever I hear “hottest” anything now, a tiny little part of me wants Stefon from SNL to pop up and tell me the place has “everything,” but sadly that didn’t happen in the first episode of Boss Nails.) Her salon’s claim to fame is Treasure Nails, which are blinged-out nails encrusted with Swarovski crystals. They are beautiful — and by beautiful I mean “Huh, everyone has their thing, I guess.” (I have about a 50 bottles of nail polish that are going untouched as my boring, bare nails stare up at me from my keyboard; the gel manicures I get are nothing more than standard. So, I may not be the best person to critique Treasure Nails and their aesthetic value.) A couple times in the screener, they set a montage-type nail sequence to pop music: he’s filing – now applying tips – now painting – now gluing — now blinging – now they’re done! I don’t know if it was the music or the glitter, but something in the nail montages reminded me a little of the TV commercials of my 1980s youth, and I found that vaguely comforting. So, uh, if you like “beginning to end” sequences, this show might be for you, too (I’m reaching, huh?). But I digress.
When Dana was younger, her mother taught her to take misunderstood people under her wing and make them part of her family, so naturally her staff is cuh-raaaaazy. She tells us toward the beginning of the show that everything that happens at Tippie Toes is outrageous and that there’s always something going on. There’s always a situation! And this is true, at least in the first episode. But I suspect that perhaps there are dramatic situations because this is a reality show (rather than there’s a reality show because this place is dramatic). We meet the staff, who apparently like to drink and twerk, even at work, and some interesting clientele, including a Latina superstar and a man who has a diva alter ego named Erika who wants a full set of something fabulous. Oh, and Dana’s husband makes an appearance. He’s quite tan, with very white teeth, and is wearing clothing that I feel like an older gentleman might wear to a nice dinner on a cruise ship. (Or, maybe on an ark. I didn’t catch his age, but he’s, uh, up there a ways.) He seems to be of great comfort to Dana as she tells him how hard it can be to deal with her employees and the inevitable situations–but she loves them; they’re her family, of course. (Yes, right on cue we got a nice big life is haaarrrrrrd but I’m #blessed type of moment–a must in every reality show!)
As we all know, there has to be a big conflict woven in amongst the little conflicts (the drinking and the twerking and the who stole my OPI type stuff) to really keep us on our toes (er, toenails?), so enter Nuni Torres: an Instagram-famous nail artist who Dana has hired on to the staff. He’s kind of a DB (and I don’t mean decibel, or database, or whatever else DB might refer to), from what I gathered in the first episode (though he is very creative, and very good at what he does, so maybe I’m being unfair — plus, strong personalities translate into good TV, sometimes). It’s clear that he rubs some of the staff the wrong way, so I’m sure that he’ll be the main source of drama throughout the series. He does have some good points about business (for example, he maintains that your boss shouldn’t have to tell you you’re not allowed to drink at work–it should be a given — duh), but overall I have a bad feeling about him. He seems a bit too smug. He reminds me of that hipster that you keep running into every time you turn the corner at Whole Foods and, try as you might, you can’t shake him and his know-it-all smirk. Just let me buy my coffee without a lecture on fair trade, hipster. (You’ll see what I mean when you watch the show.)
In addition to Nuni, there will be more drama to this season: Dana is going to move a step up from Treasure Nails to Imperial Nails. (What Imperial Nails are, I’m not sure. If you stick around for the season to find out, please let me know!)
Here’s a look at the show:
Boss Nails premieres tonight on Oxygen at 9pm ET/PT (8pm CT) and airs Tuesday nights.
Photos by Maxwell Mason/Oxygen, courtesy of and © 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC.