High Desert review: Overcrowded narrative covers up a promising base

High Desert is comedy series that follows Peggy Newman, a drug addict who decides to make some changes in her life and becomes a private investigator determined to solve one big case. The series is streaming on Apple TV+.


Peggy Newman is a drug addict who puts her family at risk after her husband is arrested by the DEA for dealing drugs. 10 years later, she’s barely recovering from her addiction, working a dead-end “job”, and dealing with the loss of her mother.

When her siblings try to kick her out of their mother’s house because they cannot afford to support her anymore, she is forced to find other means of income. She stumbles upon a mystery and decides to become a private investigator to work on the case.

The disappearance of Donna Scarborough leads to Peggy getting involved in art forgery, the New York Mob, and just general chaos as she tries to prove to her brother and sister that she isn’t completely useless.


Patricia Arquette is the tent pole that is holding this series aloft. She puts in an almighty effort as Peggy, who can talk herself out of pretty much any situation. Her character isn’t well rounded but she still makes a considerable impact.

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Rupert Friend plays Guru Bob and he does a good job. Bob is a weasely man who cannot stand up for himself and Friend does great to capture the lack of authority that his character has.

Brad Garrett, Weruche Opia, Matt Dillon, Carlo Rota, and most of the other cast aren’t given enough of an opportunity to truly exhibit their talents but they succeed in supporting the narrative in their own little ways.


The core concept of the series is very interesting despite the muddled execution. A mystery surrounding Donna that intertwines so many different characters for different reasons makes for an engaging story on paper.

The locations also add a ton of charm to the story as the arid desert plays the perfect backdrop to this murderous caper. There are adequately written characters that could have done so much more but are still entertaining nonetheless.


The director tries to do too much with just 8 episodes. It’s almost like he cannot focus long enough on one plotline before moving on to the next and the series suffers as a result.

There is one subplot regarding Peggy’s addiction that specifically deserved to be mapped out in a perfect arc and it is a travesty that it isn’t given the proper treatment.


High Desert has so much potential that unfortunately isn’t realized in what is essentially a jam-packed slog to the finish. Patricia Arquette does her best to pull the viewers in with her wonderful performance but she is let down by an unclear direction for this vehicle to travel.

High Desert
High Desert review: Overcrowded narrative covers up a promising base 1

Director: Jay Roach

Date Created: 2023-05-17 08:30

Editor's Rating:

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