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This is the one Netflix show you need to binge watch this month

Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan, Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in Virgin River season 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix is premiering a bunch of new shows in July, but only one major returning series is coming soon. Virgin River season 4 is the biggest installment of the romantic drama yet, at 12 episodes. 

Virgin River has become a big hit for Netflix since it debuted in 2019. The show has similar vibes to other small-town dramas like Northern Exposure, Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Hart of Dixie and Netflix sibling Sweet Magnolias. 

It combines tearjerking storylines, amusing antics from supporting characters, multigenerational conflicts, some crime-adjacent intrigue and heart-racing romance (without explicit sex scenes). 

With season 4 dropping July 20, this is the perfect time to catch up on Virgin River. 

What is Virgin River about?

Based on the novels by Robyn Carr, Virgin River follows midwife and nurse practitioner Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckinridge), who moves to the small rural town from Los Angeles to start fresh after heartbreak. 

After settling in, Mel starts a new job at the practice owned by sometimes-curmudgeonly Doc Mullins (Tim Matheson), with whom she frequently locks horns. She also falls for local bar owner Marine Jack (Martin Henderson), a former Marine with a complicated past of his own. 

Mel meets various other residents of Virgin River, including mayor Hope McCrea (Annette O'Toole) and Jack's chef Preacher (Colin Lawrence). 

In season 1, Mel's very first case involves a baby left in a basket left on the clinic's doorstep. She tracks down the mother, who is suffering postpartum depression. Later, Mel is on hand to help patients with pregnancy, cancer, heart conditions and contraception needs. 

Her initial flirtation with Jack starts off red-hot but runs cold when Mel meets his "girlfriend" Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley), though he insists she's just a casual fling. Their relationship faces numerous obstacles, including Charmaine's pregnancy and Mel's painful memories of her husband Mark. The couple also deals with danger, such as threats by illegal pot growers and an unknown assailant who shoots Jack. 

Martin Henderson as Jack and Alexandra Breckinridge as Mel kiss in Virgin River

(Image credit: Netflix)

Meanwhile, the townspeople have their own issues. Doc and Hope secretly reignite their previous relationship, while teens Ricky and Lizzie navigate first love. Preacher finds himself caring for a friend's son when she goes on the run. 

Season 4 will have several cliffhangers to resolve, most notably the paternity of Mel's baby. Is the father Jack or Mark (via a leftover embryo from IVF treatment)? Plus, Doc is helping recover from a traumatic brain injury, while Jack's sister Brie is trying to prove Brady is innocent of shooting Jack.

What it will take to binge watch Virgin River

To be ready for season 4 on July 20, you'll need to watch the first three seasons of Virgin River. Each of those seasons consists of 10 episodes, which have an average runtime of 45 minutes. 

In total, that's nearly 23 hours. A day-long marathon is probably out of the question, but you could devote the next two weekends to catch up (four six-hour binge sessions on Saturdays and Sundays). 

If you're not into bingeing, you could watch one or two episodes every day. You may not finish before July 20, but close enough. 

Read next: Take a look at This 19-year-old comedy that's just cracked the Netflix top 10 — but is it any good? and this is the one Netflix movie you should stream this weekend.

Kelly Woo
Kelly Woo

Kelly is a senior writer covering streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.