‘Virgin River’: Fans Think Netflix-Mel Can Be ‘Condescending’ and ‘Annoying’, Whereas Book-Mel Was More ‘Down-to-Earth’

You wouldn’t believe just how many of your favorite shows are inspired by popular books. In fact, it wouldn’t even be far-fetched to say that most of the shows you watch are from novels — but with some creative differences, of course. Unfortunately for Netflix’s Virgin River, fans aren’t fond of the change in Mel’s personality in the series versus the book. It seems Mel went from ‘down-to-earth’ in Robyn Carr’s book series that started in 2007 to ‘condescending and ‘annoying’ in Netflix’s 2019 interpretation of the series.

Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe on 'Virgin River'
Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe on ‘Virgin River’ | Netflix

The inspiration behind Robyn Carr’s book series ‘Virgin River’

Like most books and shows, there are always other authors and popular pieces that make their way into popular novels. This is because writers more often than not draw inspiration from their own favorite books and areas. This remains true for Robyn Carr and her Virgin River book series. 

In an interview with EW, Carr dives deep into TV shows and films that inspired her hit series:

“I really loved Picket Fences, that goes back a long time ago. That was a contemporary, small-town domestic drama, and that was a lot of fun to watch. The thing that really inspired me — I just loved Jan Karon’s small-town series with Father Tim. I always said to myself, ‘If I ever write a series, my people are going to swear and have sex.’ And they do. They’re just like real people.”

“My first series was the Great Valley series, and it was very popular, even though the books came out one a year,” Carr added:

“People wrote to me a lot, so I thought, ‘I’m going to do that again, and I’ll put the town closer to Great Valley so that I can use the people from Great Valley in the new series,’ and it was just a runaway train. It just kept going and going and going. There were new people all the time. Twenty books in the series is a lot.”

Netflix-Mel versus book-Mel

If you’ve made it through even a fraction of Carr’s twenty-book series and sat down to watch Sue Tenney’s Netflix series, then you likely already know that Mel seems different in comparison. Here’s what Virgin River fans are saying about the difference on Reddit.

Although one fan praises the series for what it is, they admit, “Netflix Mel annoys me — I find her too condescending with her patients and just vaguely annoying. Book Mel was so cool and smart and kind and down to earth. Netflix Mel seems to have a lot of drama.”

Another respondent added that they agree but already anticipated a difference between the two since the creator took a 2000s book and made it a 2019 TV series. They add that they think “Netflix-Mel is going to be like those prominent medical- sometimes detective MCs who no one likes or agrees with but EVERYONE calls because they get s— done and in more efficient ways.”

Other differences between the book and TV series

Of course, Mel was far from the only difference between the two Virgin River series. 

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

Believe it or not, Charmaine’s babies weren’t Jack’s in the book series, Mark died due to a convenience store robbery (not a car accident like in the show), and many of the characters you meet early on in the show don’t actually make their way into the novels until much later. To keep things moving and interesting for their TV audience, the show also moves much faster than the book, often combining more than one book into a season.

Other differences include seeing more of Charmaine in the TV series than in the book, Hope and Doc’s marriage that was never actually official in the book, and as Carr stated in her inspiration of the books — she wanted all the real person vibes in her character, including all the sex and swearing. Netflix cut back on it, though. 

The reasons for these changes are unclear but likely a way for creators to add their own creative touches to the series and gain a wider audience. 

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