High Desert on AppleTV+ will leave you asking yourself, in a good way: What did I just watch?
At first, High Desert feels like a messy joke. But 8 episodes later, I have to admit that I loved watching this messiness unfold thanks to an amazing performance by Patricia Arquette.
Peggy Newman (Arquette) is a mostly reformed addict and budding private investigator; Sounds promising. Right? However, Director Jay Roach took a different approach with this character-driven comedy that felt like it’s intuitively drawn out of its vivid characters. Plus, it helps when you have a talented cast. Peggy is tough, vulnerable, impulsive, clever, scattered, focused, confident, and needy, and Arquette… knits these attitudes into a single, singular person whose contradictions never feel contradictory.
In fact, I’m quite sure that High Desert is the brainchild of Roach getting shitfaced after signing up with Apple and deciding to make the weirdest comedy that makes no sense. But he added a twist: The show is heavily character driven that you want to root for its messed-up characters.
What saves High Desert from being satire or black comedy is an earnestness at its heart.