A dark new crime series is set in a less-than-typical locale. Hightown creator Rebecca Cutter looked to Provincetown, the gay-friendly Cape Cod artist enclave, rather than a gritty urban setting for the Starz series. “It’s the very outermost tip of Cape Cod,” she explains of the town. “It’s very isolated and a very special unicorn of a place. It’s this haven for LGBTQ tourists, it’s an artist colony, it has this very specific flavor.’”
The series, which premieres on May 17, centers around Jackie (Monica Raymund), a hard-partying agent with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Her discovery of a dead young woman pulls her into a dangerous drug trafficking operation that runs beneath the surface of the placid beach town. “Cape Cod was hit very hard by the opioid epidemic but that’s probably the least specific thing about the show,” Cutter says. “You could have written a show that took place in West Virginia or Ohio or Florida or Vermont. I hope that part of it is relatable all across America, [while] at the same time introducing you to this really wild, special, beautiful place."
Cutter’s creation of the show began with her conception of the central character. “I was driving and I got the idea of Jackie Quiñones—this strong party girl, kind of Don Draper as a woman, with really unapologetic desires and appetites,” she says. “This idea of her owning P-Town and being the mayor of P-Town in her own mind [puts] her on a sobriety journey that mirrors a crime journey. That was enough to get it started.”
Casting Chicago Fire’s Raymund as Jackie solidified Cutter's vision. “She was the first choice, from the beginning,” Cutter recalls. “She wanted it, she loved it, [and] when we talked about it she admitted to having a lot of similarities to the character. She blew us away. We were walking off the lot with her and she said, 'You can cast whoever you want, but just so you know, I’m Jackie Quiñones.' Which is so attractive, that confidence. And that’s what Jackie has.”
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