Rebecca Cutter’s ‘Hightown’ was breaking new ground — and then the pandemic happened

Speaking to CNN prior to the debut of “Hightown” on Starz, Cutter said it has been “wild” to be promoting the show she created just as her industry and the nation grapple with a pandemic.

“I think like all of us, it’s like everything is a mix of emotions at all times, right?” she said. “I mean, you know, I’m so excited. It all feels very glamorous in a weird way.”

“But then really, right now I’m sitting in my bedroom on my unmade bed, my two kids are doing their Zoom school outside and my husband’s in the other room doing his work,” Cutter added. “I’m stuck at home like everybody else.”

“Hightown” was already being anticipated, due to it being a gritty crime drama created by a woman, a rarity in the genre.

The series stars “Chicago Fire” actress Monica Raymund as Jackie Quinones, a National Marine Fisheries Service officer who is battling demons when she becomes embroiled in a murder mystery on Cape Cod. (“Hightown” airs at 8 p.m. ET Sundays).

For Cutter, who grew up outside of Boston and had been visiting Provincetown, Massachusetts, as a tourist for decades, the series offered the chance to show a side of the community most people don’t see while they are there vacationing.

It’s a darker side which Cutter came to know after she married a man from one nearby community and began to learn what the area was like in the winter when the tourists have returned home.

“Employment goes way down, the numbers go way down,” she said. “It’s cold, it’s very isolated, alcoholism goes up. So there’s a different side of it.”

It’s also a place that the opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect, she said.

“I don’t think that that opioid epidemic hit Cape Cod necessarily worse than other places in the country, but it was certainly something,” said Cutter, who has had her own struggles with substance abuse. “It was sort of the place that I first started hearing about it firsthand.”

Cutter, who also serves as a writer and executive producer on the series, said she has no problem talking about her own sobriety.

“I’ve been sober a long time. I have no shame around that,” she said. “That’s an amazing thing. If anybody watches the show and sees a glimmer of hope about the chance for recovery, that’s great.”

“Hightown” came to be because Cutter, who has worked as a writer on “Gotham” and “The Mentalist,” knew she needed a pilot script to showcase her voice to get writing gigs in television.

She said the character of a bold, confident and “unapologetically sexual woman” living free in “P-town,” and working as a fisheries service agent (the same profession as Cutter’s father-in-law) came to her a few years ago and she wrote the script never imagining that it would become an actual series.

But it has and Cutter said is proud to have produced a project which has become part of her “viewing entertainment more as a necessity in this day and age.”

“We all need to escape from the horrors of our reality,” she said. “So if it provides an hour of distraction and that actually helps somebody, I’m so grateful for that. And so that’s the best I can hope for — that people connect to it and it helps them get out of themselves for a little while.”

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