What started as a low-key entry into the Netflix ever-growing database of solid tv shows is now one of its most popular. Virgin River, set in Northern California, tells the tale of Mel Monroe who trades in her LA life to move to a remote town called Virgin River. A nurse practitioner, it's clear from the get-go that Mel, while not exactly running away from her demons, is certainly looking for a new life.
What she gets is a town packed with big characters including the Mayor who hired her to work with Dr Mullins. The ageing Doc doesn't want or need Mel's help so she doesn't get the warm welcome she was hoping for. Also in the mix is local bar owner Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson) who takes quite the shine to Mel.
It's easy to think that Virgin River is just another fluffy drama but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the show. If I had to compare it, I would liken it to a more serious Hart Of Dixie or a less contrived and more modern When Calls The Heart. All three shows feature a female lead moving to a small town and having to fit in, often when they are not wanted.
What makes Virgin River stand out a bit more is that the characters are very well rounded with real issues that unfold as the series moves along. Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge) has clearly suffered a tremendous loss but instead of just vomiting the whole back story out in the first episode, it is revealed in a far more organic way. Likewise for most of the other stories which the episodes revolve around.
This is very much a quiet drama that relies on solid acting and a meaty script. What you end up with is an engaging story about one woman's struggles to pick up the pieces of a broken life. It is incredibly easy to get invested in the story and you will probably find yourself hitting the ‘next episode' button a lot!