30+ Shows Like ‘Virgin River’ To Watch When You're Having Mel Withdrawals
Weekend plans sorted.
With Celine bag in tow, Los Angeles nurse practitioner Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) found her way to the quirky Northern California town of Virgin River — and drove her little red BMW into the hearts of fans everywhere in the process. Of course, she had some help from hunky but complicated local bar owner Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), who quickly became more than just the man who poured Mel’s drinks. Although fans didn’t know what to expect when the series first premiered in December 2019, the show instantly became an emotional Netflix must-watch. Two seasons later, and we’re still in love with this romantic drama and the stunning Pacific Northwest scenery that surrounds it. If you’re like us, you’ve undoubtedly been Googling “shows like Virgin River” since you blew through the recently released season three in a day. The good news? We’ve managed to put together a list of series worthy of your post-Virgin River binge-watching queue.
In compiling our list, we really had to think about the elements that make Virgin River so irresistible. And, well, a couple of things jump out right away. For starters, the show is bursting with heart. So, that has to be a prerequisite when seeking out shows like it, right? Then there’s the matter of the setting. Virgin River, the town, pretty much qualifies as another beloved character in the show. That means other series like it would also need to have a strong sense of place. Finally, there should be a fierce female protagonist somewhere in the mix, as well as a dash of delicious relationship tug-of-war to keep us on our toes.
It seems like a tall order, but happily, shows like Virgin River do exist. So, once you’ve watched every episode (probably twice) and are teetering on the edge of a showhole, press play on the following similar series.
Best Heartfelt TV Shows Like Virgin River to Watch Next
1. Firefly Lane
Like Virgin River, Firefly Lane proved to be a runaway hit as soon as the series dropped on Netflix — so much so that, just like Virgin River, it quickly secured the promise of future seasons. This series, which focuses on best friends Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) and Kate Mularkey (Sarah Chalke) also takes place in the scenic Pacific Northwest. Another reason this show feels like a good follow-up? Like Virgin River‘s Mel, Tully and Kate toe the line between two different worlds: the girls they were in their youth and the women they are decades later. Oh, there’s romance, too!
2. Sweet Magnolias
If Virgin River made you want to pick up and move to Northern California, Sweet Magnolias will make you want to take up summer residence in the South — the fictional town of Serenity, South Carolina, to be exact. In this charming series, friends for life Helen (Heather Headley), Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), and Maddie (Joanna Garcia Swisher) struggle through life’s challenges with each other’s help. Another resilient redhead doing her best to pick up the pieces of her life in a wildly endearing little town? Yes, please.
3. Dawson’s Creek
This late 1990s classic follows a group of tight-knit friends through high school and beyond — a group that includes young Katie Holmes (Joey), James Van Der Beek (Dawson), Joshua Jackson (Pacey), and Michelle Williams (Jen). And, yup, just watching it will make you want to pack your bags and take a trip to their hometown of Capeside, Massachusetts. Although, if you really want to visit their haunts, don’t head north; the series was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.
4. Big Sky
You might be thinking, Huh, how did a crime drama thriller land on this list? Well, for starters, we all know that Virgin River has more crime and intrigue than one might expect. Plus, this similarly based-on-a-book show gives off plenty of the rustic Western small-town vibes you’re probably craving right about now. The gist? Private investigators Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody (Ryan Phillippe) join forces with Cody’s cop ex Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) to solve a kidnapping and from there, things get… complicated.
5. Spinning Out
Another tale of reinvention, Spinning Out follows Kate Baker, a competitive figure skater, who must pivot her plans when a disastrous fall nearly takes her out of the competition for good. Much like Mel, Kat finds that her start-over story includes facing her personal demons — and striking up a relationship with a handsome, talented, and complex man along the way.
6. Hart of Dixie
This dramedy stars Rachel Bilson as a young doctor from New York City who decides to start over in the tiny Alabama town of Bluebell, Alabama. When she gets to town, she realizes the doctor she was joining has died and left her his part of the practice in his will. What ensues is a crash course in small-town living, big-city attitudes, and naturally, love.
7. Cedar Cove
This soapy show based on author Debbie Macomber’s book series of the same name originally aired on the Hallmark Channel and ran for three seasons before being canceled. Its premise focuses on the picturesque Puget Sound town of Cedar Cove, where everyone’s hot and the town’s judge, Olivia Lockhart (Andie MacDowell), deals with keeping the town’s deep, dark secrets — as well as her own.
8. Gilmore Girls
I mean, right? Yes, this feels a bit more light-hearted, but there’s no shortage of emotional heartstrings being pulled in the must-move-there-now town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Witty protagonist Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her equally clever daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) live, love, and interact with a litany of quirky neighbors as they run a local inn. We’re not sure what’s more copious: the coffee or the one-liners.
This wild ride features Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a nurse in WWII who is mysteriously sent back in time to 1743. That’s when she meets a young Scottish warrior, Jamie (Sam Heughan), whom she is forced to marry, despite having a husband back in 1945. Don’t worry, though — as reticent as she is initially, Claire soon finds her reservations are no match for the chemistry that these two share. Sound familiar?
10. Chesapeake Shores
When New York City career woman Abby O’Brien Winters (Meghan Ory) gets a frantic phone call about saving the inn of her younger sister Jess (Laci J. Mailey), she decides to return to her sleepy hometown of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to help out. Also back in town? Her first love Trace Riley (Jesse Metcalfe), whom Abby ditched way back when to pursue her NYC dreams. Cue the romance and drama!
11. Northern Rescue
The small Canadian town of Turtle Island Bay will give you all of the Virgin River vibes as you watch this poignant drama. In full disclosure, the West family’s move from Boston to the rural area is also rooted in a heartbreaking loss — the family matriarch, Sarah, passes away after a short but intense battle with cancer. To help the family heal, search and rescue commander dad John (Billy Baldwin) packs up his three grieving kids, Maddie (Amalia Williamson), Scout (Spencer MacPherson), and Taylor (Taylor Thorne), to go live with his wife’s sister Charlie (Kathleen Robertson). Did we mention there’s a pet penguin, too? Don’t sleep on this one.
12. When Calls the Heart
Yep, another Hallmark tearjerker to add to your queue! Although this series became mired in a bit of real-life drama due to the scandal surrounding star Lori Loughlin, it’s still worth a watch if you love Virgin River. Like Mel, When Calls the Heart‘s main character Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) is passionate about her calling — teaching — and lets that take her to a small Canadian frontier community called Coal Valley (and later Hope Valley). So, the show’s heart is a redhead with a fighting spirit who experiences lots of ups and downs in her new town, much like Mel.
13. This Is Us
This Is Us has a very unique style of storytelling that allows you to understand a TV family like never before! The Pearsons begin their journey in the 1980s, and at first glance, they seem just like your average family — filled with love, stress, heartbreak, and complications. But because the series flips between past and present, you get to watch these characters grow up and move through their lives as adults.
14. Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin is a telenovela, dramedy, and tear-jerker all in one. It follows the life of a young woman who dreams of becoming a writer. When she finds herself pregnant, the path to her dreams shifts, but with her crazy and incredibly supportive family, Jane finds the strength to face just about everything. And this includes scary gangsters, loss, and all the twists and turns that make her life seem very much like a soap opera.
15. Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere has a slow and intriguing build-up that’ll keep you glued to your screen. A Black mother and daughter settle down in a white suburb in the ’90s. This show touches on race relations and classism and has a chilling and mysterious feel all the way to the end. It offers an honest and peculiar perspective on motherhood you’ll appreciate. Plus, Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington star. Need we say more?
Even More Shows Like Virgin River to Check Out
- What If
- Dead to Me
- The Ranch
- Mare of Easttown
- Little Fires Everywhere
- A Million Little Things
- Good Witch
- Off the Map
- Council of Dads
- Chasing Life
- One Tree Hill
- Call the Midwife
- Northern Exposure
- Schitt’s Creek (OK, more comedy than drama, but what a sense of place it has!)
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