Virgin River is more than just the most popular romantic series to hit Netflix since forever. There is a sort of alchemy of magical elements that make the television series so compelling. The scenery, that’s a big part of it. All woodsy and natural with a seemingly endless supply of forest paths and rivers and flattering twinkle lights. The architecture doesn’t hurt, especially Mel’s log cabin. Plus, while we are obviously all rooting for Mel and Jack to live happily ever after together, there are all of those side stories that keep us intrigued. Where else can you find all of those moving parts?
Well, there are actually several shows that stand up to the
Virgin River watchability test. Ripe with lots of richly told side plots, gorgeous scenery, and surprisingly timeless wardrobe choices that make them all seem sort of uniform in a comforting way. Much like Virgin River, which is based on the popular romance series by Robyn Carr, the shows featured on this list know how to build a world that feels at once familiar and pleasantly impossible. Heartland
If the scenery from the long-running series
Heartland, which premiered in 2007 and is currently in its 16th season, looks vaguely familiar, you’re not imagining things. It is another series filmed in Canada, though this series is actually filmed in the midwestern province of Alberta while . This series follows life on the Heartland Ranch as Amy Fleming and her family deal with the struggles of being ranchers. Sort of like Virgin River is filmed in the coastal province of British Columbia except with barn dances and mild fights instead of murder. Yellowstone Stream Heartland on Peacock. Queen Sugar
Another series based on a popular book of the same name, Ava Duvarnay’s
Queen Sugar is currently in its sixth season and has one more coming before the series finale. Queen Sugar follows the lives of the three Bordelon siblings, one of whom moves home from Los Angeles to Louisiana when they inherit an 800-acre sugarcane farm from their late father. Queen Sugar is another drama, with a totally different backdrop from Virgin River that is lush and romantic and gorgeous. And if you’re already a fan, you are not alone. Oprah Winfrey herself tweeted about how much she loved Queen Sugar, so who are you to disagree with Oprah? Stream Queen Sugar on Hulu. Gilmore Girls
If there is one small town gal fans might have been rooting for as hard as they rooted for Mel from
Virgin River, I think it is definitely Lorelai Gilmore. The single mom lead of the always classic, always iconic Gilmore Girls set the bar for small town quirkiness. Again, the town of Star’s Hollow is its own character, full of fun little cafes and festivals that make no sense and townspeople who never seem to go anywhere but Luke’s Diner or the Town Meeting or maybe try dancing at Miss Patty’s. Lorelai and Rory are funny and sharp but also sentimental, making this show a yearly re-watch for so many fans. Stream all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls as well as the four-part series Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life on Netflix. The Village
We clearly love an ensemble cast series, and
as far as emotional hits go. This series is not set in a small town, rather it takes place in a New York City apartment building that is special in that the residents are all in it for the whole “Village” experience of it all. A nurse who is a single mom with a pregnant teen daughter, a social worker coping with cancer, a refugee struggling with immigration issues. They’re all intertwined and all trying their best to help each other. Definitely break out the tissues though, because this series is a tearjerker of The Village delivers in spades This Is Us proportions. Stream the one and only season of The Village on NBC.com. Dawson’s Creek
If you’ve never seen the classic ‘90s television series
Dawson’s Creek, I can’t decide if I’m sad for you or excited for you to experience it now. The series ran from 1998 to 2003 and was centered on 15-year-old filmmaker Dawson Leery and his friends Pacey, Jen, and Joey as they navigate growing up in Capeside, Massachusetts. All four teens, who went on to become big stars as adults (James Van der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Michelle Williams, and Katie Holmes respectively) become embroiled in dramatic pairings through the years, and it’s all very intense and grown up and, from a nostalgic point of view, so sweet to revisit. Plus the soundtrack is iconic ‘90s. Stream Dawson’s Creek on HBO Max. Call The Midwife might not be the most obvious choice as a show similar to Call the Midwife Virgin River at first glance. The setting of an economically depressed East London neighborhood of Poplar in England in the 1950s and 60s is not exactly full of rivers and trees, after all. But the thing about Call the Midwife is, it always delivers a soft emotional gut punch that is just enough to warm you up but not enough to leave you depressed. Plus, Mel works as a nurse practitioner and the midwives work with the nuns of Nonnatus House to deliver the babies of Poplar. But the thing is, everyone works together in Poplar. They take care of each other. Just like they do in Virgin River. Watch Call the Midwife on PBS. Sweet Magnolias
If someone was trying to figure out the most perfect equation for the kind of comforting show that makes you want to put on your pajamas and curl up on the couch, they’ve done it.
Sweet Magnolias is exactly that kind of series. Three lifelong best friends who call themselves the “Sweet Magnolias” all live close to each other in gorgeous Serenity, South Carolina. Maddie is going through a painful divorce, Dana Sue is a chef, and Helen is an attorney. Helen buys an old mansion for the three of them to turn into The Corner Spa together, and they drink margaritas and gossip all the time. It’s truly a dream come true. Stream two seasons of Sweet Magnolias on Netflix. Hart of Dixie
Whoever came up with the concept of a big city, fish-out-of water storyline needs to win all of the awards. Because this is what we love to watch and it’s something of a common denominator in all of the series that are just as engaging as
Virgin River. Back in 2011, Rachel Bilson perfected the stereotype as fast-talking Manhattan surgeon Dr. Zoe Hart in . After Dr. Hart’s practice is moved to a small town in Alabama, she finds herself struggling with serious culture shock. And, of course, falls in love with the town and the people. Special points for the inclusion of Tim Matheson, who plays Doc in Hart of Dixie Virgin River. Stream Hart of Dixie on Amazon Prime. Northern Exposure
Perhaps one of the most charming, long-forgotten series of the ‘90s that is like a quirkier version of
Virgin River is . This time around the fish-out-of-water doctor is Dr. Joel Fleschman, who sets up practice in the little town of Cicely, Alaska where he definitely does not fit in. He meets a whole cast of characters including Alaskan bush pilot Maggie O’Connell, who of course becomes his love interest despite their conflicting views on pretty much everything. Watch out for Northern Exposure SATC’s John Corbett (Aiden) who plays a free-spirited disc jockey delivering commentary on life in Cicely. You can’t stream , but it’s totally worth it to buy on DVD. Northern Exposure Sleepy Hollow
series adds a true odd man out twist to Washington Irving’s classic tale. The Headless Horseman is back and being a real jerk as usual, but fortunately Ichabod Crane has been resurrected after 250 years to stop him wreaking havoc on modern day Sleepy Hollow. With the help of a police officer who witnessed the Headless Horseman in action and is probably/definitely going to become Ichabod’s love interest, the two dive into a magical world they don’t really understand. But, you know, with a pretty backdrop and stuff. So it’s all worth it. Sleepy Hollow Stream four seasons of Sleepy Hollow on Disney+.
There are so many amazing
Virgin River-type series out there. Really you never have to leave the house again if you don’t want to. What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox