Review: Virgin River, season 1

Alexandra Breckenridge in Virgin River

Virgin River is a Netflix original that stars a woman, is written by women, is often directed by women, and is produced by women. Netflix has already renewed it for a second season.

Alexandra Breckenridge and Martin Henderson in Virgin River
Hmm, do you think we’ll fall in love?

At its heart, Virgin River is a love story. It isn’t a romcom, it’s more dramatic than that. If there was a drama-lite genre, it would fit there. It ends with a cliffhanger that is a perfect lead-in for a second season.

Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) is a nurse practitioner and midwife. She leaves LA and moves to a small town in the mountains of Northern California. She was recruited by Hope (Annette O’Toole) to work with the local doctor, Doc Mullins (Tim Matheson). Mel is leaving behind a troubled past. She clings to the support of her sister Joey (Jenny Cooper).

Alexandra Breckenridge in Virgin River
This place is unlivable!

When Mel gets to Virgin River she finds it isn’t what was promised, and Doc Mullins doesn’t want her around. Much of season 1 concerns whether Mel and the Doc can learn to work together and whether she will stay in Virgin River.

Martin Henderson in Virgin River

Jack (Martin Henderson) runs the local bar/cafe. He’s attracted to Mel immediately. They become friends, he helps her get adjusted to Virgin River. I don’t want to unveil the complications of Mel’s past, because they are revealed slowly throughout the season. But Jack’s complication is Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley), the woman he’s been seeing for the last 2 years.

Both Mel and Jack have PTSD. Mel’s past losses have scarred her, and Jack was a Marine for 20 years. In spite of the complications on both sides, Mel and Jack are drawn slowly together.

Annette O'Toole in Virgin River
Hope complicates everything

Other complications are caused by the fact that Hope is a busybody who interferes in everyone’s life. She and the Doc are married, although they haven’t lived together for 20 years. There’s a long history as to why that’s the case that is another slow reveal in the storyline.

Tim Matheson in Virgin River
I don’t need any help from a nurse!

The fact that Tim Matheson plays the doctor means this series is compared with Hart of Dixie. In that series, Tim Matheson played a small town doctor who has to share his longtime practice with a young female doctor he doesn’t like. The concept of the young doctor moving into a small town and not fitting in also reminded me of the old Michael J. Fox film, Doc Hollywood.

Virgin River is none of the above, however. It’s based on a book by Robyn Carr, who also wrote the series with creator Sue Tenney. The series has danger, romance, mystery, and a few well-developed characters.

Colin Lawrence in Virgin River
War buddies

Colin Lawrence plays Preacher, a fellow Marine. He cooks and helps in the bar. Preacher has his own love story, which involves Paige (Lexa Doig) and her young son. She sells baked goods out of a food truck and has a big secret.

Another Marine buddy, Brady (Benjamin Hollingsworth), shows up. He’s kind of a bad actor. Jack supports him, Preacher doesn’t like him. Brady joins up with a bunch of criminal types who grow weed in the nearby national forest.

The setting for the fictional town of Virgin River is beautiful. The show was filmed in British Columbia. It’s scenic as a postcard. Many sights are incredibly beautiful. There is actually a Virgin River, but it isn’t in California.

Women directors in season 1 include Gail Harvey and Jann Turner.

The series is enjoyable and pleasant. I was hooked in and wanted to see what happened, especially to Mel, who was the driving force in the story.

The poster for Virgin River

15 thoughts on “Review: Virgin River, season 1”

  1. In your review you say: “Jack joins up with a bunch of criminal types…”

    I think you have the wrong name here. I think you want to say: Brady joins up with a bunch if criminal types…


    1. The show is a cross between “Men in Trees” series with the male actor’s character is named Jack too. The cabin looks like the same cabin from that series but I’m not sure.
      It has some of the same elements of “Hart of Dixie” but it’s not exactly the same. Hart of Dixie was meant to be in Alabama and Zoe Hart was the young female doctor….. there was a bad boy, Wade and then the rest of the characters are similar.
      Doc Hollywood does come to mind.
      Also, it has the same scene (it looks like) that Gilmore Girls had for the restaurant on the inside, the stairs, kitchen doors, etc. The bar owner reminds me of Luke, who owned the café on Gilmore girls.
      It’s a cute show but it’s all be done before on other series very similar to it, there is no real originality to it. The actors are extremely good on the show and you do want to know what happens to Mel and Jack, but since it’s a sort of copy cat of other shows it’s easy to figure out what will happen next. My GUESS is that Jack with end up with his baby momma because he thinks Mel isn’t coming back but then she’ll return and it will get complicated, they will be in love from that point on but never quiet get together without some type problem…… a baby will be involved and it’s mommy isn’t an actual horrible person so she will be likable. Again, it’s all be done before and it lacks originality.

      1. Yes, it uses tried and true ideas for storytelling. I was wishing that perhaps some of the characters could be LGBTQ or for more racial diversity to bump up the story. Even as it is, they have a hit.

      2. Charlene Barringer

        I don’t think Jack will end up full time with Charmain, he isn’t in love with her. He’s committed to supporting her and the baby financially but that’s as far as it goes. I found it interesting that we saw Jack interact very positively with baby Chloe and also witness a live birth at the pot camp. So we know he’s comfortable with little ones, we just don’t know if he ever wanted his own child. The tension set up for Jack with Mel not able to have children while Charmain is pregnant makes this script a bit different. It will be interesting to see which way it goes. I see Mel staying to follow her heart in caring for patients but losing Jack to Charmain and his child. I just don’t see how Jack can have it both ways. Keeping Mel in his life is asking her to accept a reality (baby with another woman) that is unbearable for Mel. What would really be trite is to have Charmain miscarry and Mel and Jack find their way back to each other. Too easy and I hope that isn’t the resolution. Or Mel leaves and Jack has to deal with that loss. Or Charmain finds the courage to go it alone with only Jack’s financial support and moves away. Yikes! So much to look forward to. This series is a cut above the Hallmark channel, better script and acting. Thanks Netflix!

      3. I would have guessed that the 2nd season of Virgin River might be out late 2020 or early 2021, but I don’t know if they’ve had an interruption because of COVID 19. That might move things further out.

  2. Rose Turnquist Mann

    A Netflix original with so far no cursing and no wild sex scenes. I’ve only watched one episode, but so far, I’m hooked.

  3. The cabins and scenery, indoor and out, are gorgeous…but this series is a Harlequin romance on steroids. And I am an NP, so appreciated the story start. Corny. These chicks are teases, and the beefcake gets tiresome.

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