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Here's Why Some Virgin River Fans Love To Hate-Watch The Show

For the most part, Netflix's "Virgin River" plays like a romance novel come to life (it is, in fact, based on a series of books by the same name). The plot centers around Mel, a medical professional who decides to move to the rural town of Virgin River to start her life over and escape her painful past. This turns out to be a less than ideal fresh start for her once her fellow townsfolk complicate her life.

Given "Virgin River" has hit the #1 spot on Netflix's Top Ten Trending List, you might assume that it has a huge fan base composed of viewers who love the show unconditionally. If so, you'd be wrong. Based on several Reddit threads, it turns out a vocal minority — if not the majority of viewers — have an intense love/hate relationship with the series. But they keep watching anyway. To find out why, it's time to take a dive down this metaphorical river and see what fans despite most about the show (and why they keep coming back for more punishment).

Many viewers did not like Virgin River Season 3

One overwhelming trend among fans of the show is a passionate dislike for "Virgin River" Season 3. This Reddit thread alone mentions Season 3 over 20 times, and the majority of those references are negative. Fans described it as a "dumpster fire," a "train wreck," and "problematic." Commenters who shared specific gripes mostly blamed poor writing, frustrating storylines, and plot inconsistencies. One Redditor even felt the writers treated viewers like "they're stupid" based on how obvious some of Season 3's problems were.

So, why was Season 3 such a wild departure from the first two? Maybe the writers decided to take a little more creative freedom and deviate from the books. Or maybe they stayed faithful to the original narrative and the author of the source material was going through a phase at that particular bend in the story. Either way, fans have given plenty of feedback; time will tell whether Season 4 will learn from the previous season's mistakes or not.

Virgin River fans despise several of its main characters

Some "Virgin River" viewers hate Jack so much, the character even has a "Jack Sucks" Reddit thread with over one hundred comments about his bad behavior. Obviously, stringing Charmaine along for two years in a sexual relationship and dumping her like a hot potato the second that shiny new girl, Mel, moved to town was pretty low. But Charmaine's frustration with the situation caused her to lash out and do some pretty despicable things in return — which fans also disapprove of.

Hope doesn't have many supporters, either. The "I hate Hope" Reddit thread illustrates this quite strongly, detailing how she gets progressively worse over the course of Seasons 1 and 2. Indeed, being all up in everyone's business is a quality that is generally detested in society, but Hope doesn't let that stop her from saying and doing basically whatever she wants, whenever she wants. There's a very good possibility that fans are still watching and hoping against hope that Hope pays the price for some of her more questionable choices.

Preacher just can't catch a break

"The only likable character is Preacher and he is disrespected in most of the episodes," wrote one user on a Reddit thread dedicated to hate-watching "Virgin River." And they aren't wrong. Preacher takes excellent care of Paige's son, Christopher, despite how much drama she brings into his life. He basically handles the majority of the workload at Jack's Bar as if he were an owner or general manager, yet he is but a lowly employee and gets shut down when he asks Jack about a partnership. He's practically the backbone of the town.

Despite all this, poor Preacher just can't catch a break — and fans are understandably upset about it. Maybe part of the reason people are still tuning in is because they're rooting for him and want to see him succeed for once? Perhaps their collective positive thinking can somehow manifest a more favorable storyline for him. It certainly would be nice to see a good guy like Preacher finally put a notch in the win column.

Virgin River: so bad, it's good?

"Virgin River" earned a 56% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83% from critics. When you take an inventory of the show's many sins — according to fans — it's a wonder why anyone watches the show at all. But there's one explanation that could bring some clarity to the situation: it's so bad, it's good.

Indulging in guilty pleasures is a tale as old as time. The "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, for example, sold millions of copies and claimed the top three spots on the list of best-selling novels from the last decade (via CNN Business) — all despite being roasted by critics like Hypable's Marama Whyte. People can't resist the allure of an ongoing disaster, which could be what put "Virgin River" on top in the first place.

If you're in the mood to indulge your own guilty pleasure, you can catch up on the first three seasons of "Virgin River" right now. And if you get hooked, don't worry — a fourth season is likely waiting in the wings for 2022.