It’s summer, which means a new wave of shows are hitting network television, cable, and streaming platforms. One of those new series is Showtime’s crime series City on a Hill which is set in 1990s Boston. The series stars Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge as a corrupted FBI veteran and a District Attorney, respectively, who team up to help take down a family of car robbers.
City On a Hill was developed by Ben Affleck and Chuck MacLean who based the show on a fictional version of the Boston Miracle, so unfortunately for true crime fanatics, Bacon’s character Jackie Rohr isn’t a real person. But, like the show itself, the character is connected to real events that occurred in the city in the '90s. Bacon, Hodge and the creators have spoken about why the show chose to not retell history exactly as it happened.
The Boston Miracle refers to a time in the city when no one under the age of 17 was murdered for 18 months and the homicide rates decreased by 63%. The show will use this success operation as a basis for an original telling of why this safe period happened. While the series speaks about the events that led to the Boston Miracle, the heart of the show is the relationship that develops between Bacon’s Rohr and Hodge’s Decourcy Ward. Producer Tom Fontana talked to IndieWire about how the dynamic between Jackie and Decourcy propels the crime stories.
“The dance between [the two leads] goes on for the entire season. Hopefully, at any given moment, you’re not sure who’s winning and who’s using who and for what reasons,” Fontana said. “We’re trying to have these two characters try to figure each other out and maintain a sense of themselves. It’s a mixed evolution on both their parts.”
Bacon described his character to TV Insider as a “hot mess” and said he could clearly see who the character was going to be when he read the script. “There's a crime in our show, but I'd never consider it a crime show because we spend as much, if not more, time at home with these people and what's going on with their very complicated personal lives — [much like] what made The Sopranos interesting,” Bacon explained.
The main gangsters Jackie and Decourcy face also aren’t going to share names with recognized criminal’s in the city’s history. However, actual crime boss Whitey Bulger who operated in the 90s will be mentioned in the series, according to Variety. During the ATX Television Festival earlier this month, MacLean revealed, “I didn’t want to approach it at all,” he admitted during the ATX Television Festival panel Saturday. “I figured if we got [the reference] out of the way [in the premiere], people wouldn’t think we were building to his [entry into the series … I grew up with that story — it was on the news every night — I’m tired of it.”
Both MacLean and Affleck are Boston natives so it won’t be too surprising if there are a few more nods to crime bosses throughout the series. But the creators and producers emphasizing original storytelling means that the rest of the show should promise to deliver unexpected and entertaining thrills.