#74 I Wish I Had a River
File this under: Stuff I Did Instead of Writing.
A few days ago a new icon appeared on my Netflix home screen: VIRGIN RIVER. There was a picture of a pretty woman with beach-y waves next to the description: "Searching for a fresh start, a nurse practitioner moves from LA to a remote northern California town and is surprised by what — and who — she finds." After watching for 20 minutes, I rewrite the description: “Unrepentant City Girl moves to a sketchy small town, sight-unseen, for a job. The locals treat her like shit and gaslight her. But there’s a Hot Guy around here somewhere so, cool, I guess?”
I know I should just turn it off and not go down this rabbit hole.
I know. I know.
But I’m in a dark place that only rage-watching a terrible tv show can help.
Care to join me?
Warning: the following contains nothing but snarky commentary and massive spoilers for Season 1 of Virgin River.
The show starts with a gorgeous red BMW winding around dark, wooded roads. GPS doesn't work so you know we're in for a wild night. City Girl is driving and having flashbacks of life back at home, apparently a place where it's always daylight, everyone is happy, and she is engaged to a Hot Doctor played by the guy from The Vampire Diaries.*
City Girl gets run off the road. But she's quickly rescued/insulted by a Grumpy Old Man. Turns out, City Girl is an experienced nurse/midwife and that Grumpy Old Man is actually Grumpy Old Doc, City Girl's new boss who says things like “I’m not only old, I’m old school” and “in MY day, nurses knew their place!” He's played by the guy from Animal House and was also the VP on The West Wing. Despite his obvious seething hatred for City Girl, he gives her a ride to her new home which turns out to be a haunted cabin in the woods.
The Mayor, a quirky older woman, is the owner of the haunted cabin and the engineer of this whole debacle. She also seems not to know that humans don’t love sleeping in ramshackle cabins with no running water. She calls City Girl “cranky” and “picky" and sends her off to the ONE BAR IN TOWN.
City Girl gets to the bar and meets Hot Guy who, of course, owns the place. City Girl orders a cosmopolitan which is just, wait WHAT? She's ordering a cosmo? Is this show set in 1994? Nothing about this show make sense. WHO WROTE THIS? I DEMAND ANSWERS.
At this point I text my friend, Lauren: I'm seven minutes into Virgin River and already enraged. Please give me a reason why I should keep watching this dumb show.
Lauren: You need to commit. Just lean in, dammit.
Me: If it continues to suck, I'm going to come down there and bop you on the head and drink your wine.
Lauren: So angry, Hindsley!
City Girl and Hot Guy are now flirting and we know it is ON LIKE DONKEY KONG. Hot Guy's bar is "no frills" but he is clearly cultured since he recognizes her Cartier jewelry. And he obviously has a past. We know this because he says things like, "my days of tracking bad guys are over." Military? Secret Agent?
City Girl's first day at work doesn't go well. There's a lot of “this isn’t what I signed up for” met with “join the club, sweetheart” conversations. And, continuing flashbacks of Hot Doc and City Girl happy and talking babies. Is Hot Doc a Deadbeat or just dead?
City Girl has a bossy sister (and dead parents, obviously. Parents are never allowed to live in these types of shows.) She just called her “sis." Truly, tell me readers: have you EVER referred to your sister as "Sis" for any reason? Why do writers do this?
WHY GOD WHY?
At this point, I started live-texting with my friend, Alisha. She'd given up on Virgin River in the middle of the first episode, so I felt it was my duty to inform her of what she missed.
Me: The one black character in the town seems to be the moral center of the story. Did I mention his name is PREACHER?**
Ugh. This show.
Ok, so Hot Guy takes City Girl on a tour which starts and ends with them looking at the river while exchanging more expository information that we will probably need to know later. He also warns her about the local marijuana cartel. I call this whole scene: “City Girl has never seen leaves or dirt. Brings Celine bag to the River.” I googled: "Virgin River Celine Bag" and was brought right to a link to buy it at the retail value of $2128.50.
It's sold out. Nice work, digital strategists!
Hot Guy has a shifty friend who gets major side-eye from Preacher. Now, you know if Preacher doesn't like him, he must be bad news. My money is on the weed cartel. City Girl thinks about taking off her wedding ring, but instead just has more flashbacks about babies. We still don't know what happened to Hot Doc, but it's not looking good.
And to make things worse, someone left a baby in a laundry basket on Old Doc's porch!
That's the end of the first episode. I'm annoyed with this show but bored so I leave it playing as I start pulling out the few Christmas decorations I have to perk up my Charlie Brown tree. I continue to text updates to Alisha as Virgin River plods along in the background.
"Hot Guy has a girlfriend!?!? We know she's trouble because she has sexy red sheets on her bed."
"The laundry basket baby's mother is found. Local woman who disguised her pregnancy with oversized denim shirts."
"City Girl and Hot Guy are being forced to provide emergency medical care to the weed cartel at gunpoint! City Girl is still rocking a sweet beach-y waves blow out after 2 days in the woods."
It's s work in progress.
My phone rings and it's Lauren on FaceTime. I answer: "There's a STORM and everyone is hunkered down at Hot Guy's bar. I can't talk right now." I'm in deep.
Hot Guy and Sexy Red Sheets break up. He and City Girl are clearly in love and FINALLY have their first kiss. But now Sexy Red Sheets is totally complicating matters: she shows up during a massive storm and reveals that she's pregnant.
Ugh. This is the last thing City Girl needs what with losing her baby and all those infertility problems!! She packs her bags and calls "Sis" to let her know she's coming home.
End of season one? Oh no, there are TWO SEASONS?
Well. Now I have to know what happens, right? If you need me, I'll be here with a bottle of wine and some Rolos.
*And The Originals
**Not a Preacher