The crime drama “Hightown,” set in Cape Cod, combines three unlikely topics — the opioid epidemic, the LGBT community and some good old-fashioned murder.
Premiering Sunday on Starz (8 p.m.), “Hightown” follows Jackie Quiñones (Monica Raymund, “Chicago Fire”), a hard-partying lesbian National Marine Fisheries service agent who discovers a body on the beach, a murder that reverberates through the idyllic vacation spot. James Badge Dale (“Rescue Me”) co-stars as local cop Det. Ray Abruzzo, who has ties to the victim, fentanyl addict Sherryl (Masha King).
“The show is set in Provincetown, which is an artist community and a fishing community,” Dale tells The Post. “[It’s inhabited by] generations of blue collar work ethic mixing with the LGBT community.
“Cape Cod is the setting, the opioid crisis the circumstance,” he says. “And then you have this incident with this girl getting killed. The series is about how that affects everyone’s lives.”
To further complicate matters, Jackie continues to struggle with her sobriety as “Hightown” kicks into high gear.
“I was attracted to Jackie because of the journey that she takes from being a mess in the beginning and struggling through her recovery, trying to stay sober in the midst of this tornado that she finds herself in,” says Raymund, who’s also appeared in “The Good Wife.”
“She comes across this body on the beach and she just becomes completely determined — almost obsessively so — to solve the crime. I found that very compelling, because this girl … has hit rock bottom, still hasn’t come up for air and is finding self-worth in trying to solve this murder.
“Those were two really interesting elements of the story that I wanted to explore.”
The show was filmed on location — so unlike crime dramas with moody lighting, such as “Ozark,” “Hightown” pairs its dark subject matter with seaside sunsets.
“I’d never been [to Cape Cod] and it was pretty amazing filming there,” says Raymund. “I think its landscape photographs beautifully, especially in Provincetown.”
Throughout the series, Jackie must fight to be taken seriously as part of the investigation, as other officers dismiss her as just “a fish cop.” To research the role, Raymund dove into learning what that really means.
“I got to learn a little bit about the National Marine Fishery Service — I didn’t know that’s a federal agency,” she says. “I learned how to drive a boat and dock it. I didn’t realize how important [‘fish cops’] are to enforcing fishing and lobstering regulations. It was cool and new.”
Jackie and Ray’s stories eventually dovetail, and Dale says he found it meaningful to shine a spotlight on the opioid crisis while making the show.
“All of us have friends and family who have been involved in this one way or another,” he says. “I don’t think [the issue] gets enough playtime along with drugs and alcohol and all of our mental health issues.
“I think this story needs to be told.”
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