High Desert Season 1 Review – an uneven journey with a lacklustre payoff

By Ricky Valero
Published: May 9, 2023 (Last updated: July 4, 2023)
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Apple TV+ series High Desert Season 1 Review


High Desert’s lows don’t outweigh the highs causing the series to fall flat on any potential expectation.

We review the Apple TV+ series High Desert Season 1, which does not contain spoilers.

Apple TV+ has been pumping out TV shows left and right in 2023. High Desert comes from a trio of writers who have worked on shows like Nurse Jackie, Desperate Housewives, and Grace and Frankie.

The series is set in the small desert town of Yucca Valley, California, and stars Patricia Arquette and Matt Dillon.

High Desert Season 1 Review and Plot Summary

High Desert follows Peggy Newman, a woman with a long history of making bad decisions. However, she makes a life-changing decision to become a private investigator after the passing of her mother.

The only person that stands in the way of chasing these new dreams is the person she sees in the mirror.

When we first meet Peggy, she and her husband, Denny, are having the time of their lives by having a big get-together at their house with family and friends.

However, it is very short-lived as the FBI comes in and raids the house leading to Denny going to jail for a long time. We get a ten-year time jump where we see Peggy living in a small town where she performs in this old western-like establishment.

Although her husband is away, the hustle within Peggy to be more never leaves her. After her mother passes away, Peggy sits at a bar with her friend Carol to try and figure out her next move. She’s on the verge of being kicked out of her house by her brother and sister, and she is running low on funds.

As she sits there, a man comes across the screen (Bruce), a private investigator who ripped off her friend. One thing leads to another, and her next goal is to become a private investigator.

The biggest takeaway from the series is that I was a big fan of the cast. Patricia Arquette is electric in the lead role of Peggy. While the writing team did a great job of giving Peggy a full arc, I felt like the ending left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

That said, Arquette is a delight in the role and brings such a strong comedy aspect to this very troubling character.

While she had several counterparts in the show, Matt Dillon and Brad Garrett, I loved her on-screen time with Weruche Opia as Carol. Each character had solid background stories, but we never really had Carol’s story fully developed. If season two were to come to fruition, I would love to explore more of the Peggy and Carol dynamic because Opia was great when she was on the screen.

No matter how good the cast was, the writing struggled to connect the dots making for some lackluster pieces to the puzzle. They tried doing so much with the show’s build and what was ahead for these characters that it wasn’t worth the build when it came time for the payoff. If they cut back on a side character or two, I believe it fine-tunes the script and story, but the ending still needed more.

Is High Desert Season 1 Good or Bad?

Good, not great, but not bad. I know I had a lot to say that was bad, but the general audience will find this an easy watch. The 25-30 minute episodes might even make for a binge-worthy sit-down when the seasons are over.

Is High Desert season 1 worth watching?

Yes, with some hesitations. Patricia Arquette does a phenomenal enough job with her work as Peggy, making High Desert a slight recommendation. Audiences will see the glaring holes that they will nitpick, and rightfully so. The journey with the characters isn’t bad, but how it crashes and burns affects the ride.

What did you think of the Apple TV+ series High Desert Season 1? Comment below.

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