VIRGIN RIVER Season One Explores PTSD With A Light Moral Worldview
By Movieguide® Contributor
VIRGIN RIVER is a romantic drama streaming on NETFLIX based on Robyn Carr’s bestselling 21-novel series of the same name. Developed for the screen by Sue Tenney, the series stars numerous talented actors, including Alexandra Breckenridge, Martin Henderson, Jenny Cooper, Lauren Hammersley, and Annette O’Toole. The series follows Melinda “Mel” Monroe, a midwife and nurse practitioner from Los Angeles, California, and her adjustment to life in the small, remote country town of Virgin River, California. Melinda thinks her new home will be the perfect place to make a fresh start and leave her painful past behind, but soon discovers that small-town life is more complicated than she expected.
Melinda is hired by the town mayor, Hope McCrea, for a one-year contract to assist the town doctor, Vernon Mullins. Mel arrives to find nothing as she anticipated it would be. Her housing is unlivable and Dr. Mullins, unaware that anyone was hired to assist him, refuses to let her do her job. Hope instructs Mel to head to the local bar, Jack’s Bar, for dinner while she sorts the whole situation out. There, Mel meets Jack Sheridan, the bar’s owner and a retired Marine who moved to Virgin River years ago to make a fresh start. Jack is immediately attracted to Mel. However, since she has a wedding ring on her finger, she refrains from acting upon his feelings.
After being subjected to several days of filing paperwork, picking up takeout, and making coffee, Mel is at her wit’s end and feels that moving to Virgin River was a big mistake. Afraid that she will leave, Hope convinces Doc to employ Mel for a 30-day trial period and promises to provide her temporary housing while fixing up her cabin. Still unsatisfied with how she is treated, Mel decides to leave town. But when Jack discovers an abandoned baby on the doorstep of the doctor’s office, Mel can finally put her medical skills to use and begins to prove what she is capable of. As Mel adjusts to life in Virgin River and grows closer to Jack, she is forced to face the past she is running from. As life in the small town grows more complicated and as her trial period draws to a close, Mel must decide whether to move forward in Virgin River or return home to Los Angeles.
VIRGIN RIVER Season has humanistic, moral, and patriotic worldviews. The series does not reject the existence of God. However, many characters live their lives in a way that demonstrates the belief that reality consists only of what humans can see. Many characters rely on substances, people, or physical change to help cope with past trauma, loss, and pain. This continually leaves them feeling empty. However, the show does have a strong, moral worldview and values community, caring for others, helping others, standing up for those in need, friendship, healing, and redemption. It accurately portrays the reality of grief and PTSD and shows moral, healthy ways of dealing with these issues, while also representing their raw reality. There is also an underlying patriotic worldview as several of the characters are retired Marines who served during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is often discussed, and the PTSD they face because of their bravery is shown throughout the series.
VIRGIN RIVER Season 1 has a few instances of violence and/or scenes that may upset some viewers. There are several mild bar fights throughout the series. One character is a Marine suffering from PTSD who has frequent onscreen flashbacks containing war violence; several characters are seen getting shot and one character dies. Two characters are held at gunpoint and forced to operate on a gunshot wound without appropriate tools. There are two scenes where mothers give birth that contain some blood. A child nearly dies from pesticide poisoning.
There are several scenes in which characters are seen kissing and one brief implied sex scene. There is infrequent use of light obscenities and profanity. There are regular bar scenes in which people can be seen drinking, sometimes to excess. A character holds a cigarette to his mouth but does not smoke it. The town is surrounded by illegal pot farms where people live in extremely poor conditions. A few scenes take place at one of these farms. There is frequent reference to them throughout the season; however, the drug trade is never looked favorably upon, and its dangers are regularly highlighted throughout the series. One character abandons her baby due to untreated post-partum depression; they are later reunited after she receives proper medical care. A woman becomes pregnant outside of marriage, there is talk of infidelity and divorce.
VIRGIN RIVER is a well-produced, engaging series. Through well-placed flashbacks, viewers will gain glimmers of insight into the character’s past that, combined with the present-day plot, will slowly help the characters gain the audience’s love. The excellent writing, acting, and camera work, will cause viewers to fall in love with the series and will leave them ready for the second season.
Due to some mature content, MOVIEGUIDE advises discretion for teenage audiences.
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