It’s been nearly two years since “City on a Hill” premiered at the 2019 ATX TV Festival, and while plenty has changed in the real world, it’s still the early ’90s in Showtime’s crime drama. Assistant District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) is still trying to clean up a Boston bureaucracy rife with corruption, and FBI Agent Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) is still trying to do things the old way, his way, not exactly the legal way.
On Tuesday, during the network’s presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter 2021 Press Tour, Showtime released the Season 2 trailer for “City on a Hill,” which you can watch below. As previously announced, the second season will premiere March 28, and the updated synopsis is listed here:
Season 2 centers on a federal housing project in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston that is plagued with drug violence and a rightful distrust in local law enforcement. As coalition leader Grace Campbell (Pernell Walker) works tirelessly on behalf of the community, her efforts are undermined by gang activity happening right under her nose. Enter irreverent FBI agent Jackie Rohr (Bacon), who is here to exploit Boston’s defective criminal justice system in a desperate attempt to salvage his own career. Unfortunately for Jackie, assistant district attorney Decourcy Ward (Hodge) is onto his adversary’s latest misstep. In time, the personal antagonism between these two escalates to an all-out war between the offices of the U.S. Attorney and the Suffolk DA. No one is safe from the collateral damage.
Season 2 also stars Lauren E. Banks, Mark O’Brien, Amanda Clayton, Matthew Del Negro, and Jill Hennessy with guest stars Pernell Walker, Keiko Elizabeth, Lucia Ryan, Kameron Kierce, Shannon Wallace, John Doman, and Michael O’Keefe. Season 1 star Jonathan Tucker will not be in the second season (though fans can catch him on the new NBC drama, “Debris,” starting in March).
As previously reported, Bacon also directed the first episode of Season 2, marking his return to the director’s chair for the first time since a 2009 episode of TNT’s “The Closer.”
“When you get through a whole season, you really learn these characters pretty intimately, as well as the tone of the show, the look of the show,” Bacon said about preparing for the gig. “A lot of the work is done for you [by then.]”
Speaking to that level of intimacy, Bacon was quick to point out the flaws inherent to his corrupt character. “I think if you think Jackie is doing the right thing, then you need to check yourself. That’s on you,” Bacon said. Hodge, playing the hero to Bacon’s antihero (if not outright villain), was asked if visiting the racist world depicted in the show’s ’90s setting proved exhausting offscreen.
“When it comes to the environment, nothing’s changed. There’s overt racism happening now,” Hodge said. “I’m a Black man in America. It happens every single day for me. […] The way I escape it? There’s really no escaping it. […] Even though we’re set in the ’90s, we’re still living this in 2021. So I’m proud to go to work every day and step into Decourcy’s shoes and show how to fight [this system].”
Tom Fontana (“Oz,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”) remains as executive producer and showrunner, joining EPs Jennifer Todd, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jorge Zamacona, Barry Levinson, Chuck MacLean, and Michael Cuesta. Bacon, Hodge, and Michele Giordano serve as co-executive producers.
Given that the second season focuses on the murder of a young Black woman, Fontana was determined to make sure the period story spoke to modern issues.
“What we’re trying to do each season is find a real story that happened in Boston and then fictionalize it, so we can incorporate our characters into the story,” Fontana said. “After the murder of George Floyd, Showtime very generously paid for all the writers to come back and take another look at the scripts just to make sure we were getting the story just right.”
“We did another draft of the scripts with the input of all the actors to make sure we were reflecting what was going on in America now,” he said. “We couldn’t say things like ‘defund the police’ or ‘Black lives matter,’ because those terms didn’t exist in the 1990s, but we tried to [discuss] those topics as best we could.”
“City on a Hill” received largely positive reviews in its first season, most notably for its production value and performances. Read IndieWire’s full review here, and watch the Season 2 trailer below.
“City on a Hill” Season 2 premieres Sunday, March 28 at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime. Episodes will debut weekly, and beginning April 18, the timeslot shifts to 9 p.m. ET.