Apple TV Plus show High Desert just canceled after one season

High Desert has been cancelled by Apple, and won't get a second season
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

While nowhere near as trigger happy as Netflix and its numerous cancellations, Apple TV Plus isn’t above ending shows that aren’t performing. Not everything can be a runaway success like Ted Lasso, after all.

The latest casualty at Apple TV Plus is High Desert — a comedy drama starring Patricia Arquette as Peggy, an addict who makes a new life for herself as a private investigator in Yucca Valley, California. The eight-episode run ended with a canon-based cliffhanger — one that, as it turns out, will never be resolved.

“A lot of you have asked about High Desert and if there was going to be a second season, we just found out that it won’t be coming back,” Arquette said in a video on Instagram. “So that’s a sad bummer for all of us,” she added before thanking the writers, crew and fellow performers.

“I loved Peggy and that punk rock world,” she added. “Thanks to you guys for watching — you can’t win ‘em all and, you know, it sucks but tough. I mean I got this cactus, and we’re going to hug it out,” she said, nodding to a large plant behind her.

Executive producer Ben Stiller shared Arquette’s post on Twitter, adding his disappointment. “Our entire #HighDesert cast was amazing and to all our fans, thank you for embracing this show,” he tweeted. “I LOVE Patricia Arquette, who gave an awards worthy performance.” 

There is, he added, a small silver lining. “Unlike other streamers these days I’m told they will not be removing any shows,” he continued. “So you can enjoy the first season in perpetuity. And feel free to let them know you want more!!”

The series only ended its first season in May, but such a sudden decision isn’t exactly surprising. If a show doesn’t catch on immediately, it’s unlikely to be picked up in big numbers later with so much content available to stream. Slow-burn streaming successes just aren’t that common.

And while critics were generally kind with a 70% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the praise — aside for Arquette herself who got plenty of plaudits — was largely of the lukewarm variety, in part because of how intense the program was. 

“At times, High Desert comes off as an overflowing sack of chaotic scenes passing for a story, but at other times, when it’s focused on where it’s going, it can be fun to watch,” wrote Decider.

For some, the chaotic nature of the show felt like overkill. “Peggy is simply too much, any sane society would lock her up,” said Patrick McDonald in his radio review. “The rest of the all-star cast has to serve this train wreck, and she drags everyone down with her, and not in a positive or particularly funny way.”

Alison Herman’s review at Variety echoed this sentiment. “Arquette’s maximal commitment turns out to work better in small doses. It is possible to have too much of a good thing, and High Desert is hardly inclined to practice moderation.” 

This isn’t the first show that Apple has decided to end prematurely. While the company doesn’t have the reputation for being as brutal as Netflix when it comes to swinging the cancellation axe, High Desert joins Dear Edward, Shantaram, Amber Brown, Little Voice and Mr. Corman on the list of shows that didn’t reach a second season.

The good news for Apple TV Plus subscribers is that there are plenty of other good series on the service, and you can read our top picks here. Personally, I’m a big fan of another Patricia Arquette show, Severance — even if I am a little concerned about season two, given its reported problems

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.