While isolated at home with COVID-19, I scoured through different streaming services to find a new show to make me feel better inside. When I came across Virgin River on Netflix, seeing that a new season was due to arrive by Thanksgiving, I decided to give it a whirl.
What I watched blew my mind in unexpected ways.
Virgin River is a Netflix Original Series adapted from the novels by Robyn Carr. The first season debuted in December 2019 and stars Alexandra Breckenridge (This is Us), Martin Henderson (Smokin’ Aces), Tim Matheson (The West Wing), Annette O’Toole (Superman III), and Colin Lawrence (Riverdale).
The official synopsis for the series is as follows: “Virgin River follows Melinda “Mel” Monroe, who answers an ad to work as a midwife and nurse practitioner in the remote California town of Virgin River, thinking it will be the perfect place to start fresh and leave her painful memories behind. But she soon discovers that small-town living isn’t quite as simple as she expected. She must learn to heal herself before she can truly make Virgin River her home.”
I typically find romance films and shows to be generic and lack substance in nearly every way imaginable (they are what they are and know it, for better or worse), but this show breaks free from the pack. The Hart of Dixie vibes are credible, but Virgin River is not afraid to dive into the aspects of loss, grief, PTSD, trauma, and, quite frankly, relatability. The lighthearted moments, which work to amazing effect, are interwoven beautifully to break up the heavier content. Every scene, character, and setting feel real in nature and tone. That is a testament to showrunner, Sue Tenney, and the crew behind-the-scenes.
What makes Virgin River a successful show more than anything is the chemistry among actors and approach to the subject matter. Every character is perfectly cast in their role and given ample opportunity to shine. They all go on their own journey that ties back into the theme of the show, yet each differs from each other in their own unique way. Even the stereotypes at play, which are abundant in other romance-based media, are three-dimensional and well-handled in a uniquely satisfying way. I grew up in a small, rural town and believe me, this show nails that concept to perfection. Everything feels organically earned and nothing feels fake.
Breckenridge and Henderson, who share most of their scenes together, truly shine together on-screen. Their chemistry and acting chops are undeniable, making it the pulsing heartbeat of the show. Others that share subplots and numerous scenes together – Lawrence and Lexa Doig (recurring star), and Matheson and O’Toole – also have good chemistry. The real cherry on top is that these actors and characters still work to great effect when seamlessly interacting with others.
Virgin River is an excellent romance drama adaptation added to the ranks of Netflix Originals. Speaking of originals, you might also recognize former The Vampire Diaries and The Originals alum, Daniel Gilles, in addition to a tease from former Stargate SG-1 and Smallville actor, Michael Shanks. The sheer amount of talent being utilized, such as actors in recurring roles – Benjamin Hollingsworth, Grayson Maxwell Gurnsey, Lauren Hammersley, and Jenny Cooper – round out a hit Netflix series for years and seasons to come.
What I am really trying to say is that you can feel the care and craftsmanship behind Virgin River. It’s a show that makes you wish you could live and interact with the show’s characters. If I would have known how invested I would become in the show, I might not have binged it all in one day. But here is the thing: I’d do it again in a heartbeat and will likely do so come November 27th.
With a new season only a few weeks away, there is no better time to catch up on the must-watch, 10-episode hit Netflix series, Virgin River.
Check out the new trailer for Season 2:
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