‘Virgin River’: Annette O’Toole Always Knew the Show Would Be a Massive Hit

Based on the 21-book series by Robyn Carr, Netflix‘s Virgin River is one of the biggest shows on the streaming service. The series follows Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge), a nurse who leaves her life in Los Angeles for a fresh start. Mel ends up falling for Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), a retired Marine who owns the town’s bar.

At its core, the show is a simple drama series, but Annette O’Toole, who portrays Virgin River mayor Hope McCrea on the show, says she always knew it would blow everyone out of the water.

Annette O'Toole as Hope McCrea wearing an olive jacket in 'Virgin River'
Annette O’Toole as Hope McCrea in ‘Virgin River’ | Netflix

Alexandra Breckenridge didn’t think anyone would watch ‘Virgin River’

Though people tune into Virgin River in droves, Breckenridge didn’t think anyone was going to watch the series. “I just kept telling Martin [Henderson], ‘Nobody’s gonna watch this! And to this day, he just quotes me: ‘Nobody’s watching, right, Alex? Nope. Nobody’s watching,” she told The Huffington Post via Looper. “When I took the job, at the time, I had seen so many things on Netflix that just ended up in the graveyard, so to speak,” she explained. “You’d see a show, it would flash by, you’d say, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll watch that,’ and then it just disappeared.”

The This Is Us actor may have been nervous, but others knew what a gem the show would be.

RELATED: ‘Virgin River’: Why Are so Many Characters From Robyn Carr’s Books Missing From the Show?

Annette O’Toole always knew the show would be a big hit

While Breckenridge was apprehensive about how audiences would receive the show, O’Toole could feel that they had something special. “I knew it would do well,” she told Hello! Magazine. “I had a feeling about it because it was so different from anything else on Netflix. It was their first time doing anything in the romantic genre.”

The Smallville actor revealed that she told Breckenridge to keep the faith when she expressed her concerns. “I said, ‘Alexandra, I think you have to be prepared that this might be very, very big. I have a good feeling about it,'” O’Toole explained. “She said, ‘Really?’ She just did not think so at all. Now she knows. I think it just hit at the right time. I think it would have been popular at any time but because Covid happened and so many people needed an escape from their real lives and from what was going on that they just turned to this. “

‘Virgin River’ is one of the most popular shows on Netflix

Virgin River is more than just a hit; the drama series is one of the most-watched shows on Netflix. Few shows are aimed at women over 40, but Virgin River closes that gap. According to Salon, most of the cast comprises women over 35, and a good portion of the cast are women over 60.

The show has been so widely successful because it’s tapped into an audience that television often ignores.  When Virgin River Season 3 debuted on Netflix on July 9, 2021, Nielsen reported that over 1.4 million viewers watched the new season in the first week. Season 4 was also widely successful.

It looks like O’Toole knew what she was talking about all along.

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