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In defense of Hope: Why the so-called worst character on Virgin River is in fact the very best

Maybe it is the Mr. Darcy effect.

The fictional Northern California town of Virgin River, despite being small, sure has its share of characters. And the Netflix show has attracted a following to rival the populace of LA, where heroine Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge) a nurse practitioner who escapes to the picturesque community after tragedy, comes from.

Viewers have their favorites. Cameronstans, devotees of varied couples like Mel and Jack, or Brie and Brady. But perhaps it is the transformation that I as a viewer experienced, moving from being frustrated by a character to sympathetic to her plight, to presenting great empathy on her behalf, even hoping she appears in more scenes. Let me propose an ode to a different sort of heroine: Hope, the cranky grand dame of “Virgin River.”

She’s not likely to dye her gray hair for you personally. She’s not likely to stop discussing you. She’s most likely not going to such as this article. But Hope is unapologetically herself and in so doing, offers a much-needed presence on TV: that of a mature, uncompromising woman coping with a life unexpectedly changed by illness.

Articles have called Hope the worst character on “Virgin River.” Several bulgingReddit threadshave declared her probably the most annoying while one boldly appoints her the “worst character in television history.” (Perhaps that Redditer have not met Danny from “FOR SEVERAL Mankind.”)

Hope, played by the fantasticAnnette O’Toole, begins the show as the mayor of Virgin River, steering a pleasant, wooded riverfront town which has a tiny drug problem (but never mind that; you will not have the ability to remember it, anyway). Right from the start, she’s a meddler. She meddles to obtain Mel to town also to stay there when things aren’t what Mel expects to aid Hope’s husband Vernon (Tim Matheson) in his small town doctoring. She meddles in bar owner Jack’s relationship when she suspects he’s having feelings for Mel. He does, and Hope may be an excellent matchmaker.

Except Hope has romantic problems of her very own.

In the series’ first season, Hope has been living separately from her husband for many years. Vernon still posesses torch on her behalf, however. Let’s cease for Vernon, most likely the most romantic character in a residential area of hopeless (sometimes deludedly so)Romantics.

Virgin RiverTim Matheson as Doc Mullins and Annette O’Toole as Hope in “Virgin River” (THANKS TO Netflix)Hope and Vernon have another sort of marriage from what we normally see on TV. “Virgin River” does a surprisingly good job of featuring older characters (despite a huge amount of pregnancies, we don’t appear to possess many children in this town should we worry?). Hope and Vernon are childless they think, so when Hope learns her husband fathered a kid years before, a kid whose grandson turns up on the doorstep, she accepts him.

As Hope and Vernon have a fire-tested, long-term marriage so too they’ll cope with long-term illness.

Of all things hot-tempered Hope gets annoyed about, the big, important stuff she consumes stride. When it matters, Hope is rock-solid, and Hope and Vernon offer an example seldom within fiction: that of a mature, long-married couple working it out as time passes.

Yes, Vernon had an affair once, 20 years back. Sure, Hope continues to be pissed about any of it. Yes, Hope tried to create him up with a frenemy, in a weird case of anxiety about her and Vernon’s rekindled romance. But by the end of your day or even more specifically, by the end of an early on season Hope and Vernon stay together. They elect to, and choose one another over and over, even though their marriage is somewhat unconventional.

Virgin RiverAnnette O’Toole as Hope McCrea and Tim Matheson as Doc Mullins in “Virgin River” (THANKS TO Netflix)Section of Hope’s problem and likely, viewers’ issues with her is that she doesn’t tell people what she’s planning or thinking. Hope is in her very own head most of the time. Being an overthinking introvert, I’m with you, Hope. She doesn’t communicate; she simply acts, often impulsively.

Hope keeps what to herself, yet can’t stop spreading news like wildfire. She’s trouble calming her racing thoughts or keeping her mouth from spilling them. So how exactly does Mel learn Jack’s ex is pregnant? From Hope. Who’s the residentMrs. RachelLyndeof Virgin River? Hope.

Hope interferes because she cares. She loves Virgin River and all of the people there (just to illustrate: all of the fundraisers she organizes for the city). She really wants to take action all her way like piecing together a bench without first considering the instructions because she’s difficulty trusting anyone. She lived alone for a long time, and contains developed the eccentricity of a loner, once quipping: “I keep odd hours and vacuum in the nude.” She’s strong, independent and capable. She’s needed to be, and that toughness can feel just like walls to others: impenetrable, manufactured from steel.

Virgin RiverAnnette O’Toole as Hope and Teryl Rothery as Muriel St. Claire in “Virgin River” (THANKS TO Netflix)So it is even more affecting when Hope’s life is changed by disability. As Hope and Vernon have a fire-tested, long-term marriage so too they’ll cope with long-term illness. Many of them, actually, as Vernon includes a diagnosis ofage-related macular degeneration. And Hope includes a diagnosis of atraumatic brain injury, after getting back in a vehicle accident by the end of Season 3.

This is an urgent storyline of convenience for the show,necessitated by COVID, but though O’Toole took the change in stride, Hope struggles. For an unbiased person suddenly restricted by way of a disabling event . . . well, it sounds nearly the same aslife at this time.

Virgin RiverTosca Baggoo as Dr Freeman, Tim Matheson as Doc Mullins and Annette O’Toole as Hope in “Virgin River” (THANKS TO Netflix)Hope has terrible headaches. She’s difficulty doing the actions that used to create her joy, like knitting. O’Toole is really a knitter aswell, and thought consciously about how exactly Hope’s capability to do the crafts she loves would change. As O’Toole toldParade: “She’s using [crochet] being an exercise to get better with her motor skills, but it’s frustrating because she can’t take action. In another of the later episodes, she’s knitting without looking. In little ways, I was attempting to say she’s improving in this regard.”

Hope falls asleep in the center of your day. She will not consistently remember important events, like the proven fact that her companion passed on. Stubbornly, she resists help. Importantly, Hope’s recovery isn’t linear, as Mel’sgriefover her first husband and stillborn baby isn’t.

The talkative person now has difficulty choosing the best word.

Hope has her very own experience with grief and loss, which she shares with Mel to be able to help younger woman. In recovery from the brain injury, Hope has good days and bad days. As O’Toole said in theParadeinterview: “I didn’t feel just like it had been wrong to possess her have the ability to be OK in a few areas rather than others, since it just doesn’t look like there’s a proven way.”

And Hope is angry about any of it. Finally, her famous crankiness includes a worthy target: she’s mad at life. She’s frustrated with circumstances beyond her control. The mind injury in addition haschanged her personality, an authentic characterization O’Toole manages with deft and sensitivity. Noted busybody Hope doesn’t desire to socialize just as much. The talkative person now has difficulty choosing the best word sometimes, but she tells Vernon: “Treat me just like a human cat.”

A cat could very well be the very best metaphor for Hope: more standoffish and discerning when compared to a dog, yet with the capacity of great love and warmth when it matters. Like my weird orange cat anyway, she’ll come once you call. She’ll drop everything (well, maybe everything except her sewing kit, which she’ll bring) and come when her friends need her.


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Cats aren’t for everybody. Neither perhaps is Hope, the continuing storyline of her long-term disability humanizes her. And like many characters who start grating, fromMr. Darcy to Logan Echolls, disarming realness could make them beloved. When their walls collapse, they are exactly like us, doing the very best they are able to to be OK. Also to be loved.

Hope has been on a journey, and we’re along for the ride. Sure, Mel’s path is really a twisty, dramatic one, full of love, sex, death and confusing paternity, but Hope’s journey may be the most complicated of the show. It is the most relatable. And when you are so and by Hope being herself probably the most real. As Hope says: “I’ve arrived at the conclusion you need to go after what you need, even if it is a rougher road.”

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