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Series / Hightown

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In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Jackie Quiñones, an agent of the US National Marine Fisheries Service, stumbles upon a young woman's murdered body on the beach. She grows obsessed with solving the murder while struggling at the same time with her addictions to alcohol and drugs. While on the trail, she's led closer to the criminal syndicate which ordered the murder and controls the local drug trade. Along with her are Junior, a friend of Jackie's and fellow addict who gets drawn into the same syndicate's employ. Detective Ray Abruzzo joins Jackie in her quest, who's certain his nemesis Frankie Cuevas Sr., an imprisoned drug kingpin, is the mastermind. However, Cuevas and his hitman Osito are intent on stopping them.



  • Accidental Murder: Renee accidentally shot Jorge in the gun while brandishing her gun at him with her finger on the trigger. He might not have died, but she's too scared to call for help because his cousin Frankie might kill her for it, and lets him die of blood loss.
  • Addiction Displacement: Jackie uses her obsession with solving the murder to help stay sober.
  • Addled Addict: Many characters, including one sad example with the mother of a young baby, are very seriously affected due to their alcohol or drug abuse. Jackie herself commits DUI and gets into a car accident. She gets into trouble with the law over it, threatening her career, though usually she's a Functional Addict.
  • Affably Evil: Osito is a cold-blooded, seasoned hitman. He also acts kindly with Junior (although without that much emotion), saving him from being killed and trying to reassure him he'll get over helping kill someone.
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  • Affectionate Nickname: Jackie's dad calls her "flaca" (which is Spanish for "skinny") as a pet name.
  • The Alcoholic: Jackie is one, along with a cocaine addict. She goes to a drug rehab clinic and attended meetings (initially to avoid jail time for a DUI) but soon drops out, before coming back where she gets clean.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Jackie, an agent of the US Marine Fisheries Service, gets determined to solve a murder after she stumbles over a young woman's body on the beach. She's got no training in this but does a good job even so, and later becomes a professional cop.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Ray and Alan arrest a junkie who ends up running Alan over with his car. Ray bursts inside the interview room to scare the guy into giving up info on his dealer, ranting on how Alan is now paralyzed and "every cop in town" is going to be gunning for the guy. Overwhelmed, he faints and a disgusted Ray pass a perfectly okay Alan who only suffered a sprained wrist in the accident.
  • Bludgeoned to Death: One victim is beaten to death with an iron by Osito.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Osito uses this method on more than one occasion.
  • Butch Lesbian: Jackie always wears men's clothing, has short hair, and notes with pride that she's a "goldstar" lesbian (i.e. she never once had sex with a man). She's very much a ladette in personality, and always tops as she's with women until Season 2, when she bottoms to Leslie once, and explains she doesn't do that usually as topping is part of being butch for her.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Alan Santille, who always insists on procedures being followed.
  • Can Always Spot a Cop: Ray in the garage. He's instantly made by Osito in a single glance, who says he can always tell if someone's a cop.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Jackie has one when she is stressed.
  • Closet Key: Leslie tells Jackie she realized she's gay due to being with her, which came as a surprise given it's at 35 after she'd been married to a man before.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Jackie and alcohol in one episode when she's trying to stay sober.
  • Coitus Ensues: Jackie picks up a number of women (plus her ex once) and is then shown having sex with them in pretty gratuitous scenes.
  • Daddy's Girl: Jackie is quite fond of her dad, and the pair have a good time together in Season 2. This means she also takes it hard when he asks her to flirt with a dealer or worse when he's after a fix.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Jackie is shown masturbating more than once.
  • Detective Drama: The show is a mix of the amateur sleuth and professional version. Jackie has no training as a detective, but she investigates a murder anyway, hooking up with actual detective Ray to solve it. Later she joins the police force to solve crimes professionally.
  • Drugs Are Bad: They are the root of all evil in season 1. People get killed by overdoses, murdered for knowledge of drug deals, mess up due to addiction or murder others in pursuing profits from selling them.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Frankie Cuevas Sr. runs a drug syndicate and orders murders from prison. He also loves his girlfriend, son and cousin though (the latter being his lieutenant too).
  • Fanservice Extra: A lot of minor female characters are shown nude and having sex.
  • Fat Bastard: Osito is obese, and also the stone-cold hitman of a drug kingpin.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Frankie Cuevas Sr. always acts friendly, even to his enemies, but it's clearly false, with an obvious undercurrent of menace ever present.
  • Functional Addict: Several.
    • Jackie has a job, a car, a social life and her own place at the start of the series. She later gets clean.
    • Junior has a car, job, social life, baby and good relationship with his dad. He overdoses accidentally after killing someone while attempting to ease the guilt with drugs.
  • Gayborhood: There's a major LGBT+ community on Cape Cod, where Jackie lives. The show is partially centered around Provincetown, one of the major LGBT+ vacation spots, and Jackie takes full advantage of that for picking up women.
  • Has a Type: All of the women Jackie is shown being into are feminine (quite unlike herself). They're usually blonde and White as well.
  • Honey Trap: Frankie Cuevas Sr. has his girlfriend Renee act like she's willingly turned informant to Ray, and gets involved with him. Eventually she uses this to record her giving him oral sex on tape, ruining Ray's investigation, and he's suspended.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: In Season 2 Jackie joins the Providence police, and soon gets involved with her partner Leslie Babcock. Leslie reveals she'd had an affair with Ray before when they were in the same unit, and it led to both their divorces once this came out. While no specific regulation gets cited against this, it's pretty clearly frowned upon.
  • Inexperienced Killer: Junior, who gets pushed to carry out a hit under experienced killer Osito's supervision. He's very nervous about it and broken up afterward.
  • The Informant: Ray has a few of these, and encourages his team to make use of theirs. His boss also makes him get another one when the first dies.
  • Intimate Marks: Jackie has tattoos on her right breast and left side, as Season 2 shows when she wears a tanktop that reveals them.
  • It Gets Easier: Osito tells Junior after the latter is traumatized by helping to kill someone that it was the same for him at first. Eventually, however, it stopped bothering him. Since he continues to kill people, the obvious message was that the same thing would happen with Junior.
  • The Lad-ette: Jackie is a blunt, foul-mouthed, hard-drinking promiscuous woman who's very masculine and much like her straight male friends (she's also lesbian).
  • Lingerie Scene: Jackie has multiple scenes in which she's shown wearing only her underwear (some before having sex, but not all).
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Jackie's ex-girlfriend and the other women she's seen with are all feminine lesbians.
  • Love Confession: Jackie texts Leslie to say she loves her after getting a topless pic Leslie's sent, in a half-joking manner, but then worries afterward that she's gone too far. Leslie doesn't text or answer her voicemail back when she explains this, worrying her further.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Frankie tells Osito to kill a witness by making her overdose. As she's an addict anyway, the police would not be likely to think it was a murder.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Jackie has sex with Leslie at the police station where they work while in the women's locker room, the code for this being asking if she can "have a moment" alone (acting like it was just for talking about something).
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Jackie is quite butch, and her ex-girlfriend was very feminine. She also knows another female couple who have this dynamic. Later she's also with Leslie, who's more feminine as well (although the contrast isn't as strong).
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Frankie Sr. Guards allow him time to use contraband cellphones to order hits, to meet with drug dealers and have sex with Renee all in private rooms that they are guarding.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A single young woman's murder turns out to be tied into the work of a major crime syndicate.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Jackie is shown having sex with women (though without explicit nudity) or wearing only her underwear multiple times.
    • Renee is shown scantily clad and nude often. It helps that her job is a stripper. She's also shown having sex with Ray or Frankie Sr.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Junior is distraught once he helps Osito murder someone. Osito reassures him that it gets easier.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Frankie orders someone murdered for solving most of his problems.
  • Never One Murder: Several occur throughout the series by the same perpetrators.
  • Next Thing They Knew: Jackie is shown chatting with a number of women before it cuts to them having sex (or in one case, lying together afterward).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ray getting involved with his informant taints his whole case against Cuevas, and gets him released with the charges against him dropped. After this, he's suspended.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted with Charmain, who uses the fact she's just got her period to have Jackie uncuff her so she can take a tampon and then escapes from custody instead.
  • Off the Wagon: Jackie, who's gotten sober at that point, goes on a drug and alcohol binge along with her dad over Thanksgiving in Season 2. Afterward she's intent on going clean once again.
  • One of the Boys: Jackie's mostly friends with guys, and appears perfectly happy that way. She acts and dresses much like them, while being The Lad-ette and a Butch Lesbian.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Jackie is only called Jacqueline a couple times.
  • Professional Killer: Osito is a hitman for Frankie Cuevas Jr., a drug kingpin.
  • Really Gets Around: Jackie frequently picks up women for casual sex in Season 1.
  • Self-Restraint: Frankie Sr. does what he wants in prison. It's pretty clear he could escape when he wants to.
  • Shout-Out: Jackie brings Moby-Dick to Charmaine in Season 2, comparing the whale with Frankie whom she's desperate to bring down. Charmaine in turn notes that makes her like Ahab, who dies in the end without success in his obsessive hunt. The series is set in New Bedford, the book's setting, and they mention this too,
  • Single Mom Stripper: Renee once Frankie Sr. is taken to prison and his assets are frozen. She has to start working as a stripper again for herself and her son. Though she's in a relationship with him she gets cut off and has to fend for them like this.
  • Sinister Shiv:
    • One is used to kill a potential confidential informant in prison.
    • Osito later gets stabbed with one while imprisoned after Cuevas thinks he's going to rat him out (and he is). However, he fights off his attacker and survives.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The theme song is "Vacation" by the Go-Gos, a bouncy melody about love used for a dark, dramatic show revolving around the drug trade along with its many victims. It was likely chosen since the show is set on Cape Cod, a vacation spot, but it doesn't fit otherwise.
  • The Stoic: Osito rarely shows any kind of emotion. He mostly looks passive and utterly low key, no matter the circumstances.
  • The Syndicate: Cape Cod's drug trade is run by Frankie Cuevas Jr.'s gang.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Junior is quite distraught after helping to murder someone with Osito.
  • Tomboyish Name: Jackie, a butch lesbian, has this. It's actually short for Jacqueline.
  • Tricked to Death: This is attempted with Krista by giving her extra strong drugs in the hopes she would OD. However, it doesn't work, and she's beaten to death instead.
  • Turn in Your Badge:
    • Jackie is suspended after she gets into a car accident while drunk. If she can't get the charges reduced, a felony conviction will cost her the job permanently. She later gets them reduced, with her suspension lifted.
    • Ray's captain suspends him after it turns out that he's involved with his informant, tainting the investigation into Frankie Cuevas Sr. He's unable to lift this, and is fired from the police force.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Jackie is a woman of Dominican heritage and lesbian.
  • Winning Over the Kids: Ray with Frankie Jr., Renee's child, as she becomes his informant and the pair get involved.