Murder in a small town is a popular theme for plenty of television shows. You got your Twin Peaks. Your Sharp Objects. Your Ozark. Folks love fucked-up shit happening in some remote ’burb. And there’s perhaps no ’burb quite as remote as Provincetown, the gaycation destination on the very tip of Cape Cod that serves as the setting for the new Starz drama Hightown.
The story follows Jackie Quiñones—a “hard-partying National Marine Fisheries Service agent” played by Monica Raymund—who discovers a dead girl’s body on the beach, which sends her on a mission to find the killer.
Jackie, however, immediately bumps heads with Sergeant Ray Abruzzo (James Badge Dale), an abrasive but effective member of the Cape Cod Interagency Narcotics Unit.
As Jackie gets pulled into the investigation, she also begins a journey to sobriety, and the show delves into the opioid epidemic devastating Cape Cod—as well as the darker side of the seasonally idyllic hot spot.
Hightown creator Rebecca Cutter had only experienced P-Town as a tourist until she married a man on the Cape. Then she saw firsthand how drastically things change during the off-season.
“The tourists leave. Unemployment peaks. Isolation sets in,” says Cutter. “Cape Cod is a dichotomy; it is dark and light, and that’s beautiful in its own way. But over the past 15 years, this darkness has taken a new shape, as Cape Cod has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.”
Cutter relates to Jackie’s story, having been sober for 16 years. She calls her own journey “one of the most transformational experiences a human can go through.” This transformation, she says, is at the heart of the series.
Check out the trailer for Hightown, premiering May 17 on Starz.