High Desert

Ben Stiller and Patricia Arquette are reuniting once again.

The two previously shared the screen in David O. Russell’s 1996 comedy Flirting with Disaster, and Stiller recently directed Arquette in Showtime’s prison series Escape at Dannemora. Now he’ll direct the Oscar-winning actress again in High Desert, a new show that’s coming to the AppleTV+ streaming service.

High Desert is created and written by Nancy Fichman (Nurse Jackie), Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) and Jennifer Hoppe (Grace and Frankie). According to Deadline, the show follows a woman named Peggy, “a former addict who decides to make a new start after the death of her mother with whom she lived in the small desert town of Yucca Valley, California, and makes a life-changing decision to become a private investigator.”

Arquette has plenty of experience on television. Before winning her well-deserved Oscar for her role in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, she spent years working on the network drama Medium, and she later had runs on both CSI and CSI: Cyber. In 2018, she starred in Escape at Dannemora, which contains arguably the best work of her entire career – she’s totally unrecognizable in the role of a stymied housewife who has flings with two prisoners at the facility where she works, and she does so much to humanize a character who might otherwise be seen as a joke. After that, she showed up on the Hulu drama series The Act, which earned awards acclaim of its own. Unlike those projects, High Desert is being billed as a half-hour comedy, so we could end up seeing a different side to Arquette than we have lately.

This also marks a return to comedy for Stiller, who purposefully worked on Escape at Dannemora to push himself out of his comfort zone as a filmmaker, accomplishing that mission with excellent results. The last comedic thing he directed was Zoolander 2 back in 2016, which paled in comparison to the original.

Interestingly, this will not be the first AppleTV+ project on which Stiller and Arquette are working together. He’s also directing her in Severance, a workplace thriller that stars Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) as an employee at the fictional Lumen Industries, “a company that’s looking to take work-life balance to a new level.” Mark has a dark past and is trying to put himself back together, and Arquette will be playing that character’s boss at Lumen Industries.

Arquette and Stiller are both executive producing High Desert.

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