The Untold Truth Of Virgin River

The romantic dramedy "Virgin River" is one of Netflix's most popular original shows.

The Untold Truth Of Virgin River

After premiering on December 6, 2019, Netflix swiftly renewed it for a second season within weeks of its debut (via Deadline). According to Variety, the series has been renewed for a fourth and a fifth season, thanks to the immense success of Seasons 1-3.

Based on the popular book series of the same name by romance novelist Robyn Carr, "Virgin River" follows nurse practitioner Melinda "Mel" Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) as she leaves Los Angeles and moves to Northern California for a fresh start after the death of her husband Mark (Daniel Gillies). In her new home, she faces more complications than expected in such a small town, including butting heads with her new coworker Doc Mullins (Tim Matheson) and facing her growing feelings for a new love interest in the local bar owner Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson).

Seeing as "Virgin River" is so popular, its fans would likely be interested to learn about some trivia behind the romantic drama. Read on to find out some little-known facts about "Virgin River" — including details even the biggest fans may not know.

Robyn Carr is happy with the series


In an interview with TV Line, showrunner Sue Tenney discussed how the show differs from the novels. For one, it takes longer for love interests Mel and Jack to sleep together than it does in the books.

Viewers likely remember that the two don't actually become intimate until a couple of episodes into the second season, despite sharing their first kiss toward the end of Season 1 (following many episodes full of romantic tension). On this note, Tenney said, "If you've read the books, you know that sex is a big part of the books. But I just didn't feel that the first season was about that. I wanted to hold off."

Despite this change — which is pretty significant in the romance world, considering the prominent role that sex plays in the genre — author Robyn Carr was beyond happy with how Tenney and the rest of the creative team adapted her books for television. Tenney continued, "[Carr] watched Season 1 when everybody else got it, and she was the first phone call I got. She said she couldn't be happier, she thought it was amazing and that she wishes she'd thought of some of those twists. It's very important to honor the books and the book fans. We talk about that often." Additionally, fans of the show — whether they've read the books or not — sure seem to agree with Carr about how good "Virgin River" really is.

Star Alexandra Breckenridge almost wasn't available


If you're a fan of the star of "Virgin River," Alexandra Breckenridge — or of romance-filled drama TV — then you probably know that the actress also shows up on a different popular series, NBC's "This Is Us." On the latter, Breckenridge plays the recurring character of Sophie, the ex-wife of one of the leads, Kevin (Justin Hartley). Breckenridge was a series regular for all of Season 2 while Sophie and Kevin were back together after years apart.

A HuffPost interview with the actress reveals that Breckenridge was let out of her contract because the writers of "This Is Us" decided to explore Kevin's life without Sophie in Season 3. Thus, because she was no longer contractually tied to a show, she was then able to sign on for "Virgin River." Breckenridge told HuffPost, "That's a bittersweet situation. ['This Is Us'] is such a lovely environment to work in." Luckily for "This Is Us" fans, Breckenridge has made a few appearances as Sophie since exiting the show as a regular and will hopefully turn up now and again in the future.

The timing worked out in favor of "Virgin River" fans, though. Further, her co-star (and on-screen love interest) Martin Henderson said in an interview with Robyn Carr for Harlequin Books that he believes their real-life "genuine friendship" is the driving factor in their characters' chemistry. After all, their romance is the heart of the show. Who knows if the series would've been successful with another lead. Luckily, we don't have to wonder.

Tenney and Breckenridge wanted to thoughtfully showcase grief

Mel's relationship with Jack may be the heart of the show, but part of what makes their eventual relationship so earned is that Mel is mourning her late husband when she shows up in Virgin River. We see at the beginning of Season 2, when she visits his grave, how much she is still mourning Mark, despite her new romance with Jack which started at the end of Season 1. It makes sense why she's so hesitant to fully commit to Jack, even though fans desperately want them to get together at this point. Her grief is a heavy topic — and one that those involved in the show wanted to depict thoughtfully.

Speaking with HuffPost, Alexandra Breckenridge said that she and showrunner Sue Tenney worked together to ensure that Mel's grief and healing process were at the forefront of the second season, working in tandem with the story also depicting her growing relationship with Jack. The actress noted, "I really wanted to see this woman come out of her grief so that people who are dealing with their own trauma can relate to and find inspiration in that."

Executive producer Roma Roth was looking for something different


In a Q&A with Harlequin Books, "Virgin River" author Robyn Carr also sat down with the show's executive producer Roma Roth to talk to her about bringing the series to the screen and what drew Roth to her book series. Roth revealed that she was drawn toward these novels because she wanted to bring something different to the TV landscape.

Roth explained, "I was looking for a project that would take us away from what's on television right now. There's a lot of dark, edgy material, psychological thrillers, exploitative kind of shows. And I wanted something that would make people feel good."

Alexandra Breckenridge echoed this sentiment in her interview with HuffPost and mentioned how the "cozy" feel of the show was perfect for the time when it was released. She said, "Sometimes you don't want to watch something that's gonna really take you down some kind of analytical path. Sometimes you really want something that's just basic and cozy — a beautiful small town where people fall in love. Emotions are heightened right now and this show provides the perfect sort of soft landing and entertainment for people dealing with loss or going through what they're going through [with the coronavirus pandemic]."

Alexandra Breckenridge was surprised by the show's popularity

Roma Roth definitely brought something different to the TV landscape with "Virgin River," — which is exactly why it surprised Alexandra Breckenridge just how popular the show quickly became. The actress told HuffPost, "I just kept telling Martin [Henderson], 'Nobody's gonna watch this! And to this day, he just quotes me: 'Nobody's watching, right, Alex? Nope. Nobody's watching.'"

Her expectations of low viewership actually affected her performance — in the best way. Breckenridge continued, "When I took the job, at the time, I had seen so many things on Netflix that just ended up in the graveyard, so to speak. You'd see a show, it would flash by, you'd say, 'Oh, maybe I'll watch that,' and then it just disappeared. And so, during my own exploration of acting in the first season, I was just like, 'Well, nobody will be watching this,' and it was a great opportunity for me to sort of unabashedly lay all of my guttural emotions on the table and see how it goes — really rawly connect with this character on an emotional level and just kind of let it all out. It's hard to reach in and pull those emotions out in front of a crew, let alone knowing that lots of people will be watching."

As it turns out, viewers really resonated with Breckenridge's raw performance as Mel— and will continue to as the "Virgin River" heads into its fourth season.


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