The filming of Netflix’s ‘Virgin River’ season 6 has been delayed due to the ongoing WGA/SAG-AFTRA strikes. The production for season 6 was slated to commence in July 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, but with the onset of the strikes, the writers and at least some of the actors are on the picket lines. ‘Virgin River’ becomes the latest Netflix show impacted by the strikes after the likes of ‘Cobra Kai,’ ‘Emily in Paris,’ ‘The Night Agent,’ ‘The Sandman,’ and ‘Stranger Things.’
Created by Sue Tenney from the namesake series of novels by Robyn Carr, ‘Virgin River’ is a romantic drama show. The plot revolves around Melinda “Mel” Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge), a nurse practitioner and midwife who relocates to the remote Northern California town of Virgin River from Los Angeles, hoping for a respite from grief and a fresh start. She finds those things, along with love, family, friendship, and purpose, in the eponymous town. The series premiered in December 2019 and has since enjoyed a significant fan following. In September 2021, the series was renewed for 12-episode fourth and fifth seasons. The fourth season premiered on July 20, 2022. About a week later, it was reported that Patrick Sean Smith (‘Greek’) had replaced Tenney as the showrunner.
“Sue had moved on to other projects, and I’d worked with Netflix on Dolly Parton’s ‘Heartstrings’ so we had a pre-existing relationship,” Smith said to TVLine. “I was already a fan, and I was super excited when they came to me with the possibility. The cast cares so much about the show and the fans, and they want to put on the best show possible. I think they’ve done that for the past four seasons, so it just makes it easier for me to pick up the ball and keep running into Season 5 and beyond.”
In March 2023, ‘Virgin River’ was renewed for a sixth season ahead of the season 5 premiere, which is slated to happen in the fall of that year. The possibility of a delay in the production of season 6 first started circling around in June 2023 because of an Instagram post by Annette O’Toole, who plays Hope McCrea in the show. In a May 2023 post, she confirmed that season 5 would release in fall 2023 and revealed that the filming for the sixth season would begin as soon as the writers’ strike was settled. In July 2023, Martin Henderson, who plays Jack Sheridan, hinted on social media that the production for season 6 might start soon. However, given the continuing deadlock in negotiations between WGA/SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP, it’s unlikely for that to happen. The new showrunner is active on social media and has expressed his full support for the strikes.
Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, told investors in July 2023 that the strikes were the last thing he wanted and hoped they would reach a resolution by then. He said earlier this year that Netflix had enough content to survive the writers’ strike for a long time, but it seems that things have changed after actors also went on strike. “We’re super committed to getting to an agreement as soon as possible,” Sarandos added. “One that’s equitable and one that enables the industry and everybody in it to move forward into the future.”
Since its premiere, a ‘Virgin River’ season has come out every year. If the strike continues, there is a chance this might not happen in 2024. We can expect more updates on this matter in the coming months.