Hightown has a problem with its main characters

Monica Raymund and James Badge Dale in Hightown. (Photo Credit: Claire Folger/Courtesy of Starz.)
Monica Raymund and James Badge Dale in Hightown. (Photo Credit: Claire Folger/Courtesy of Starz.) /

Hightown’s flawed lead characters don’t have any redeemable traits (yet)

There is nothing wrong with flawed lead characters. In fact, I commend a show for offering real, three-dimensional characters. It’s something that drew me into Hightown. The problem is that flawed characters still need something redeemable about them.

Right now, it’s something Hightown struggles with this. Monica Raymund’s Jackie had a lot of potential at the start. In one episode, we got a sense of her alcohol and drug addiction, something that she didn’t think she had a problem with.

After the accident, she heads to rehab, where she starts crying but doesn’t understand why. I thought this was going to be a turning point; that she was going to explore her feelings and why she turns to alcohol and drugs the way that she does.

But in the last couple of episodes, she still hasn’t done anything that really makes her redeemable. Sure, she wants to solve a murder, but really, she’s swapped one addiction for another. And part of me doesn’t really think she’s accepted that she is an addict. There’s something about her statements that tells me she’s only going through the motions right not to keep her job and avoid jail time.

Flawed characters can be likable

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Euphoria on HBO showed how to create a flawed character that was relatable and likable. The show gave us a chance to get to know Rue. She left rehab with no plans to stay clean, but that didn’t mean we got to hate her. We got to know the things that led her to her decisions, why she didn’t want to stay clean and saw attempts to make connections with others.

Jackie seems to have plans to stay clean on the outside, but what about on the inside? We’ve not really got to know her well. In three episodes, she’s continually kept her barriers up, even when on her own. Her focus has been on solving the murder that she’s not had a chance to look inward yet.

On top of that, she continues to use people. It looked like she wanted to get back with her ex and show that she’s changed, but in the end, it was mostly just for the car. Jackie is unapologetic when she hurts people and then complains when they don’t like her.

Usually, by about the third episode, we get to see something to like about a character. Just as it looks like Jackie offers something, the writers have taken that away. Is there any hope moving forward?

Jackie isn’t the only problematic character on Hightown

There’s another main character who is problematic on the show. Ray continues to abuse his position and power. Of course, I expect nothing more from a cop. Good people can be cops but there are no good cops. Even Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is telling us that with Tiago’s storyline.

One thing that has been likable for Ray is that he’s taken the case personally. He promised to protect Sherry and he failed. Now he wants to get revenge. But he’s going completely the wrong way to get it if he wants to be redeemable at the end.

There’s only one character I’ve really been able to connect with up to this point. Renee is trying to make a life for her son, but she’s being forced into a dangerous situation because of powerful men. Renee is willing to admit her faults, but she also wants to be a better person, making her redeemable and likable.

I’m going to stick with the show, but something needs to change. I don’t expect Ray to ever really be likable. I don’t care about him. I want to see some growth for Jackie, even if it’s just in private as she contemplates her life choices and why she’s made them. Or even in her therapy sessions as she delves deeper into her past and her feelings. There is potential there, but the writers need to give depth a chance.

I want to root for Jackie. I want to see her succeed, but she’s too one-dimensional at this point in the story.

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Hightown airs Sundays on STARZ.