Ben Stiller and Patricia Arquette reunite for ‘High Desert’

Patricia Arquette stars in ‘High Desert.’

By María Estévez, MWN

‘High Desert’ marks the second series with Patricia Arquette and Ben Stiller (executive producer) on Apple TV+. Written by Nancy Fichman, Katie Ford and Jennifer Hoppe, “High Desert” the new eight-episode dark comedy also stars Matt Dillon, Christine Taylor, Weruche Opia, Brad Garrett, Bernadette Peters, Rupert Friend and Keir O’Donnell.

Arquette plays Peggy Newman, a former drug dealer who still partakes in the products she used to sell. Though she’s happy enough with her job as a costumed cancan dancer in a Wild West theme park, necessity drives her toward a new career: private investigator. When her messy life and cases collide, the series brims with an array of colorful desert dwellers, from a former news anchor turned spiritual guru to the gambling ladies of drag bingo.

“This is a very funny show. It’s a counterculture comedy and I think we all need to laugh right now. I think we’ll recognize different people, oddballs in your own family, and little sprinklings throughout this,” the actress revealed.

She added: “There’s a lot of love in this show and a lot of twists and turns because all these people are wackadoo and the choices that they make are bonkers, and that kind of informs where the plot ends up going. I mean, the backstories are so vivid of these characters and so rich, and they really spend a lot of time on that because these characters are based on real people. We were trying to develop this for many years, even before I did ‘Severance.’ So it was exciting that those two kinds came together at the same time.”

Matt Dillon co-stars as Peggy’s convict husband, Denny, who enters her life after a prison stint.

“When I first heard about it was during the pandemic and it was a weird time. But when I got to the part in the script where Danny starts talking about ‘soul retrieval’ involves breaking into a house. That really got me. That was a big green light. There are jobs that are, like, work; and there are jobs that are fun. This was definitely fun. It’s about the characters because they drive the story,” Dillon said.

For Arquette, the humor was an important part of her reasoning to choose this story.

“The humor is off the charts. I was struggling not to laugh at all these people that appeared. It was an embarrassment of riches because Peggy is a different kind of wild bird”.

While she walks around town in a dune buggy, procures lunch by stealing other people’s DoorDash orders and fakes IBS more than once to get out of a fix, she investigates. A woman behind the wily blond hair and bluster, she’s grappling with her mother’s death and her own addiction issues. 

“I think it’s a really great time for television. It used to be that it felt a little like in television, you were going to have to do a lot of stuff that wasn’t very good. But now it’s definitely better. TV is more sophisticated, and the audiences are more sophisticated. From an acting standpoint, that’s kind of fun,” Dillon stated.

“There are a lot of surprises that come with these characters because of the contradictory nature of who they are. I always laugh when I see people that are constitutionally incapable of being honest as Denny and Peggy. They’re flawed people and nobody can live their life perfectly. They just happen to live their life a little less perfect than others, which is kind of fun and kind of real, and I think the humor is grounded in reality and that’s the kind of humor that I like,” Dillon concluded.

‘High Desert’ is now streaming on Apple TV+