Nearly One-Third of Starz’s ‘Hightown’ Features Sex, Nudity, Drugs, and Violence

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Starz’s new drama Hightown is prone to sex, nudity, drugs, and violence. May 31’s episode, “Rebellion Dogs”, however, was particularly excessive. During an episode which clocks in at 52 minutes, there was 16.5 minutes of scenes involving such content. That’s almost 32 percent of the episode.

The show features an intense storyline full of unlikable characters. The series’ first scene featured the murder of Sherry (Masha King), leading the main characters into the underworld of Massachusetts’ Provincetown. 

Jackie Quiñones (Monica Raymund) is an officer of the National Marine Fisheries Services, until she loses her job after a felony car accident. Jackie is obsessed with solving the murder after she discovers Sherry’s body. She’s also a semi-recovering drug addict and alcoholic who frequently lives up her lesbian lifestyle with partying and casual sex. 

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Junior McCarthy (Shane Harper) is a drug addict who is also supposed to be in recovery and helping Jackie, both with her recovery and solving the murder. He’s actually involved in covering up this crime and others.

Detective Ray Abruzzo (James Badge Dale) is officially on the case, which means hanging around Renee (Riley Voelkel), who might know something. Her being a stripper means every episode has scenes at a strip club, with full frontal female nudity. There are 3.5 minutes worth of scenes involving nudity in this episode.

While the series seems on the slow side, the graphic content has been anything but. Here’s a further rundown on this episode.

There’s 4.75 minutes of violent content, most notably a beatdown scene lasting nearly two minutes. It’s “better than therapy,” gangster Osito (Atkins Estimond), who ordered Junior to beat up the fast food employee, laughingly tells him. 

The episode includes nearly seven minutes of sexual content. One sex scene features female nudity between lesbians, another with Renee and Ray finally having sex in a car, and Renee having sex with the father of her son, Frankie Cuevas, Sr. (Amaury Nolasco), in prison, while a guard stands not far away. While the scene only features brief nudity, it is still graphic:

Frankie: You like dancing for all those degenerates? 

Renee: You know I do. 

Frankie: Throwing that pussy around?

Renee: Yeah. 

Frankie: Mm-hmm. 

Renee: I’m such a fucking slut. 

Frankie: But no one has a cock like mine, right? 

Renee: Mm, fuck, no. 

Frankie: Right? 

Renee: Oh, fuck, no. Harder. Oh, harder.

Frankie: You fucking that cop? Huh? Fucking Ray Abruzzo? 

Renee: No. 

Frankie: Tell me what I want to hear. 

Renee: Yeah. Yeah, I’m fucking him. Mm-hmm. Oh, I’m fucking the shit out of Ray Abruzzo. 

Frankie: That’s my girl.

A major theme of the show is drug use, with 5 minutes of scenes with involving references, including the dealing and offering of drugs. It’s a problem most characters treat casually. 

One such scene features Jackie and Junior showing up at the home of a young, drug-addicted mother, Lisa, (Mia Vallet) to gain information about the murder:

… Jackie: I just want to talk. Please. Lisa, listen, I just…

Lisa: You need to stay the fuck out of my house. 

Jackie: Lisa, we just want to talk. 

Lisa: I told you to fuck off! Where is it? Where the fuck is it?

Jackie: We just want to talk, Lisa.

Lisa: Give me a ride to Hyannis, and I’ll tell you whatever the fuck you want to know. 

Jackie: All right, deal, but you got to talk first. Look, look, look. Hey, we brought you this [holds up formula]

Lisa: What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?

Jackie: Um, feed your fucking baby.

Lisa: Don’t you fucking judge me. 

Junior: Hey. 

Lisa: Can’t you fucking see that I’m sick?

Junior:  Hey, hey, hey. Take it easy! Hey, just chill out! [holds out drugs]

Lisa: Okay, fine, what do you want to know? 

Jackie: Did Krista come here after Sherry was killed? 

Lisa: No.

Jackie: Do you know where she might be? 

Lisa: No, okay? 

Jackie: Are you sure? 

Lisa: Yeah, I’m sure.

Jackie:  Whatever. 

Lisa: Hey! Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Guys, wait!

Jackie: She left this here, okay? [hands over suitcase] Can I have it? [takes drugs]

Many critics and mainstream media like the series, with The Atlantic proclaiming it as an “An Old-School Crime Drama That’s Thoroughly Modern,” sympathizing with drug addicts and highlighting the female crew behind the series.

The show enjoys a 79 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but only 46 percent from audiences. It has a 5.8 rating out of 10 on IMdB.

If the first three episodes are any indication, viewers ought to get used to such degenerate characters and graphic content. 

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