Five seasons in, and the juggernaut that is the heartfelt Netflix drama Virgin River endures. Part one of the show’s fifth season, which hit the streamer on Thursday, is already the #1 TV show on Netflix in the US, surpassing everything from One Piece to other favorites like Season 2 of Selling the OC, Who is Erin Carter, and Top Boy. Moreover, this show (based on the eponymous series of books by author Robyn Carr) has two more episodes still to come in 2023 — a pair of holiday-themed episodes, releasing on Nov. 30 — plus a sixth season that’s also in the works.
Virgin River: #1 on Netflix, and the first part of Season 5 is out now
What’s more, Virgin River is probably as good an example as any of the best TV equivalent of comfort food that’s available on the streaming giant. Sumptuous vistas, generally nice and decent characters, a storyline that it’s easy for fans to get caught up in (especially if they’re not all that interested in darker fare like Stranger Things or Black Mirror) — what’s not to like?
Producer and writer Erin Cardillo promised last year that Virgin River Season 5 would provide a lot of the answers to questions that fans have been waiting for. Among other things, the new season includes more romance, as well as “paternity drama, rural drug kingpins, and general small-town theatrics,” not to mention a massive wildfire threatening the town. Continues Netflix’s description of what’s in store for fans: “Issues of motherhood push Mel to make a big decision about her future at the clinic while her pregnancy unexpectedly sparks an emotional connection to her past.
“To further prove himself to Mel, Jack squares off with some long-overdue confrontations — with his own demons, and of course, with Charmaine. And as Doc and Hope’s respective impairments throw their identities into question, the doctor and the mayor must find solace in their community, in their young new family, and in each other.”
Given that the show has already rocketed to #1 on Netflix, meanwhile, many Virgin River fans have probably already burned through the first 10 episodes of Season 5 and are eagerly anticipating the additional episodes coming in November — as well as the sixth season, which Netflix, unfortunately, hasn’t shared a timetable for yet. If that includes you, one thing you can do in the meantime is turn to one of several other feel-good Netflix dramas similar to Virgin River that I recommend trying next.
Similar shows to watch
In no particular order, all of these dramas should definitely appeal to fans of Virgin River — that is, at least until the new season finally arrives:
- Sweet Magnolias: This first Netflix series is based on a series of novels by Sheryl Woods, and it’s about three best friends born and raised in the small Southern town of Serenity, South Carolina. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everyone else, the setting is bucolic and breathtakingly serene, and the pace of life comfortably languid.
- Firefly Lane: From the official Netflix synopsis of the second and final season of this fan-favorite drama, “What could possibly have ended the tight-knit 30-year friendship of Tully and Kate, our “Firefly Lane Girls Forever?” We’ll learn the answer this season — but first — Kate grapples with the painful aftermath of Johnny’s ill-fated trip to Iraq, while Tully faces a lawsuit after walking away from her talk show, and must start her career over from the bottom.”
- Ginny & Georgia: Similar to Gilmore Girls, this mother-daughter drama stars Antonia Gentry as Ginny, the daughter of 30-year-old mother Georgia (Brianne Howey). Per Netflix, they’ve moved around for years, living on the run, “But Ginny is hopeful that their new digs in a small New England town will finally be a place where she can set down some roots, especially after she meets bad boy next door Marcus the first night they move in.”
- From Scratch: Starring Zoe Saldana, this Netflix drama is based on Tembi Locke’s 2019 memoir of the same name. It’s about her time studying abroad in Italy years ago, and of falling in love with a Sicilian chef. Warning, by the way: Keep a box of Kleenex handy for this one.
- Northern Rescue: Netflix picked up this Canadian drama internationally, which stars William Baldwin as a search-and-rescue commander. After the death of his wife, he takes his three children and relocates from Boston to live with his sister-in-law in a beautiful albeit fictional small town in Ontario named Turtle Island Bay.