Will Sullivans Crossing Be The CWs Virgin River? The Team Behind Both Series Explains the Differences Between Their Two TV Romances
“Virgin River” fans looking for more while they await another season of the hit Netflix drama should consider the debut of The CW network’s “Sullivan’s Crossing.” Not only is it a fellow romance series, but it’s based on a book series written by the same author, Robyn Carr.
So how do you know whether you’re a “Virgin River” viewer or a “Sullivan’s Crossing” viewer — or whether you’re both? Variety had Carr and “Sullivan’s Crossing” showrunner Roma Roth, who also is an executive producer on “Virgin River,” break down the similarities and differences between the two titles ahead of “Sullivan’s Crossing’s” U.S. premiere on Oct. 4.
A Canadian drama set in Nova Scotia (already different from “Virgin River,” which is set in the U.S. but also filmed in Canada), “Sullivan’s Crossing” stars Morgan Kohan as Maggie Sullivan, a neurosurgeon who returns to her child home amid a professional scandal. There, she reunites with her estranged father, Sully Sullivan (Scott Patterson), and finds a budding romance with town newcomer Cal Jones (Chad Michael Murray).
Now in its fifth season on Netflix, “Virgin River” follows the life and love of Melinda Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge), who answers an ad to work as a midwife and nurse practitioner in the remote California town of Virgin River, thinking it will be the perfect place to start fresh and leave her painful memories behind.
“‘Sullivan’s Crossing’ starts out a bit more intense and slowly than ‘Virgin River’ does,” Carr told Variety. “‘Virgin River’ moves really, really fast. And ‘Sullivan’s Crossing’ reminded me a little bit of the early season of ‘This Is Us.’ It’s pretty domestic, and it’s pretty much like a family drama. And it’s a lot of new characters for us, but they they have quite a long history together. And I’ve really, really loved it. I thought they did just a beautiful job. And they added things that I wish I had thought, like the Indigenous aspect.”
Roth made the choice to add a focus on the Indigenous people of Nova Scotia, while maintaining the storyline of Carr’s book-version of “Sullivan’s Crossing,” which she says largely differs from “Virgin River” in that that show is a “fish out of water” story, while “Sullivan’s Crossing” is “a woman who is coming home to try and reconcile who she is now with who she once was.”
“There’s more of a found-family dynamic, and her life has imploded — and she’s now heading back to a home that she hasn’t been to in years to reconnect with friends and family and an estranged father that she hasn’t seen in years,” Roth said. “We do have the romance with Chad Michael Murray and our lead Morgan Kohan, and you still get all the warm and fuzzies that you want out of romance drama. It still has everything that people would love of the other show, which is emotion, drama, characters that you want to make part of your family. And you want to tune into on a weekly basis.”
For Carr, it’s those character and the community bonds in particular that are the biggest connection among all of her romance novels.
“One of the things that make my series so popular with readers and viewers is the strong sense of community,” Carr said. “You really have to rely on your neighbors. You’re somewhat isolated from the larger crowd. And then even if you don’t like your neighbor, you will always have their back. Because that’s the only way you can exist.
“We’ve been going through a time — for probably about 20 or more years now — when we really as a people have been striving and looking for a strong sense of community. And I think that’s what holds us together and gives us hope.”
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