You're going to see an entirely different Monica Raymund in Starz's new crime drama, Hightown, about the harrowing addiction and opioid crisis plaguing Provincetown, the small town located at the northern tip of Cape Cod.
Raymund stars as Jackie Quiñones, a lesbian National Marine Fisheries Service agent whose hedonistic lifestyle is upended when she finds a dead body on the beach. Jackie's out-of-control life makes her a far cry from Raymund's most recent TV role, Chicago Fire's mostly put-together paramedic Gabby Dawson. For Raymund, the role was an opportunity to not only play someone different but also to represent the LGBT community with a bold new story.
"There cannot be enough stories about and led by LGBT characters," Raymund, who identifies as queer, told TV Guide. "The fact that this is starting to become more mainstreamed and normalized is a huge step forward for my community. And any time I get to represent my community, I jump on it."
Determined to solve the case on her own while also working to get sober, Jackie will find herself butting heads with Ray Abruzzo (James Badge Dale), a sergeant with the Cape Cod Interagency Narcotics Unit who operates in a gray area. "Jackie and Ray, they repel each other [but they're also] like-minded," James Badge Dale explained. "In some way, Jackie is Ray and Ray is Jackie. As much as they can't stand each other, there is this recognition of 'you're like me.'"
According to creator Rebecca Cutter, Jackie's unapologetic ways were partly inspired by Jon Hamm's role in Mad Men. "I just had this image of this woman who's a little bit like Don Draper, this woman with these appetites but she's not ashamed of them," Cutter said.
Hightown is a character-driven drama that begins with a murder but won't exactly be a whodunit story. Instead, the show will focus on its dynamic characters and how they're connected to the growing crisis in their town. The series also stars Riley Voelkel (The Originals), Shane Harper (Code Black), Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break), and Atkins Estimond (Lodge 49).
Although Raymund is set to begin a new journey as Jackie, she hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning to Chicago Fire as the beloved paramedic. "The door is always open," she said. "Right now I'm working with Starz, but that's not a long shoot so we'll see what happens."
Hightown premieres Sunday, May 17 at 8/7c on Starz.