High Desert is the story of Peggy Newman of Yucca Valley, California. If you have seen BBC One’s Rain Dogs, it will be easier for you to understand this comedy-drama that revolves around a woman who is trying to get by in life. She is middle-aged and single; she has just lost her mom, and the world is very harsh. It is an exploration of life and its ups and downs, or to be more appropriate, its highs and lows. From an illegal past to a legal present, Peggy has been through a lot. High Desert celebrates the chaos we call life and proves that it is not meant to be enjoyed; it is meant to be lived. But it’s better not to do drugs.
A Job That Isn’t A Job
Everything goes sideways when Peggy Newman’s Thanksgiving party is interrupted by guys from the Drug Enforcement Administration who break in with a warrant. And that’s when we find out that her house is no less than an amusement park for drug addicts. Peggy and her husband, Denny, are arrested. Ten years pass, surely not in the blink of an eye, and we see Peggy out of prison and working as an actor in Pioneertown. Owen is the name of her boss there. Pioneertown has its own fill of issues, one of them being Peggy’s friend Jeannie, who has lost money to a private investigator named Bruce Harvey. The guy promised Jeannie to find proof against her husband, who has been beating their kid. That’s a shame because Peggy herself can get the proof. Maybe she should help Jeannie out. On the other hand, there is the irritating Tammy, who declares rather than tells them that her “guru,” Bob, is about to get her new breast implants, and she is about to leave Pioneertown soon. Well, good for her. Or is it?
Later on, she finds out from her younger siblings, Stuart and Dianne, who have come to visit her, that they are planning to sell the house. The mortgage cannot be paid, and Peggy doesn’t really have a job. Peggy is saddened because that’s where she used to live with their mom, who passed away three weeks ago. And as much as Peggy is ready to do a job, she has a record, and Pioneertown is the best she can do for now, or at least that’s what she thinks. So either there is time, or there is no time to save the house. There is no waiting.
When Peggy comes out of the drug rehabilitation center after completing her detoxification, although she is still on methadone, her mother’s absence hits her hard. Maybe after all this time, the realization that she won’t be seeing her again and won’t be able to play bingo with her again like they used to has finally dawned on her. And now, she doesn’t even have the home they lived in. She meets Carol, her friend, at a restaurant and tells them about the state she is in. This is when we find out that she is a pickpocket and has a son, Ethan, who lives somewhere else. There was a custody case, and she lost it. As they are talking about it, Peggy sees Bruce Harvey on TV. He is hiring. That’s a job Peggy can do. She is a pro at background checks. And more. What else did Peggy really do before she was arrested other than deal drugs? Or was it the drug business that taught her all this?
A Broke Investigator
She arrives at Bruce’s office and finds that he is almost bankrupt. The place is a complete and utter mess. Either he is a dirty PI, or he is no PI at all. Either way, he has to return Jeanne’s $300 if he cannot do his job. Considering how good she is based on the way she found out he liked his coffee sweet and how broke he is, he needs her to help effectively and immediately. Peggy is really good at the game, which tells us that maybe she has had some kind of training earlier in her life. She has a way with words, and the fact that she can bring in more business tells us something about her. She is in.
Does Peggy Get The PI Job?
Unfortunately, Stuart and Dianne don’t approve of Peggy’s new job because it’s not a job. She will be an intern. Ever since she met Denny, her life has been a cauldron of chaos. It is clear that her siblings want her to have a normal life and a normal job that she can do. But all she wants is to be with them more than anything else. After they leave, she brings out her box of belongings, which reveals, among other things, LSD pills. Later on, as she is floating in her pool all alone and watching a video that Tammy has sent her, she spots a stolen Picasso painting at Tammy’s Guru Bob’s place. Well, this can be her first case as a PI. She tells Bruce about it, but he isn’t convinced. It is only after Peggy gets rid of the office’s owner, who has come for the rent, that he agrees to bring her in. She can have 10% of his earnings, but only after going to a PI training school and getting a license. Peggy is someone who isn’t afraid to speak the truth, or rather, spit facts. For her, schools are just to scam people out of their money, and there is zero sex education; both of which are very true. It is like she is the voice in our heads. That is why we like her so much. Unfortunately for her, she spots her siblings leaving the hotel and ignoring her calls. They have seemingly given up on her and are leaving town. Have they given up on her? Is she really that bad? No, she just doesn’t have a job. It’s her past actions that are affecting her present, so her present actions don’t seem to count. Her only way to cope? Escape, but she can’t. So she takes out an LSD pill from her bag and puts it in her mouth. Maybe that will help her realize what she has done wrong. Or how late she is, or why love doesn’t count as much as a job that pays. It’s okay.
She visits Denny in prison, intending to have him sign the divorce papers. Denny loves her a lot, but it won’t work anymore. Divorce is the only reset button she can manage. He signs it, and she is about to leave the prison in her car when Jeannie calls and informs her that someone has robbed the safe at Owen’s office. It’s a lot of money that’s vanished, and to make matters worse, Denny hasn’t signed the divorce papers. It seems that even before she can begin her job as a private investigator, she is about to be a part of a crime scene. Meanwhile, her personal issues are far from over, as she will have to figure out a way to get rid of Denny and reunite with her siblings. Will she do that? Maybe they are happy without her, so she will have to make do without them. Episode 1 of High Desert begins at a point when Peggy gets a new life. Her past doesn’t matter because she has paid for it. Now, it is up to her to be better for her family, her friends, and herself.