Do you love Virgin River? Do you also love Yellowstone? Well, does Netflix have the show for you coming down the pike. Netflix has officially picked up Ransom Canyon, an upcoming romantic drama series based on the books by Jodi Thomas, for a 10-episode first season from All American and Wednesday writer April Blair. What’s more, beloved stars Josh Duhamel and Minka Kelly are set as the leads of the modern Western romance.
Netflix first announced that the series was in development back in August 2022 by the streamer’s Head of Drama Jinny Howe, who teased the show as “Virgin River meets Yellowstone.” Those are some rather large shoes, er, boots to fill, but with the source material, the audience’s appetite for romantic dramas leaning toward Western, and two established stars in the lead, it will do it.
Here’s the official synopsis per a Netflix press release:
"“Ransom Canyon is a romance-fueled family drama and contemporary western saga that charts the intersecting lives of three ranching families, all set against the rugged expanse of Texas Hill Country.”"
According to Deadline, Duhamel will play Staten Kirkland, “the owner and sole occupant of the sprawling Double K Ranch,” who’s determined to protect his Texas ranch from opposing forces. Meanwhile, Kelly plays Quinn (whose surname in the book is O’Grady, but isn’t confirmed to be so the show by Deadline or a Netflix press release), a former concert pianist from New York returning to Ransom Canyon for a new start.
On her casting, Kelly said on Instagram: “Couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this cast and crew with April Blair and [director] Amanda Marsalis at the helm. Thank you for having me. Lesgos!”
Even though the stories were written by two different authors, Ransom Canyon shares some striking similarities to Virgin River, in that that male lead is a local business owner and the female lead is a newbie in town coming from the city. We have a new Mel and Jack on our hands! Who else already can’t resist the urge to ship Duhamel and Kelly’s characters together? If you’ve already read any of the 10 books in Thomas’ series, then you know how the story goes. (No spoilers!)
While Staten and Quinn appear to be the focus, the series also involves a “multi-generational family” aspect, per Howe, which leaves plenty more characters to be cast. As the synopsis suggests, there will be three ranching families (though there’s four in the book), leaving us to dream cast some of the other heads of the various families until more casting announcements are revealed
Maybe Manifest’s Josh Dallas or J.R. Ramirez? Shadowhunters and Walker: Independence star Kat McNamara? The Perfect Find star Gabrielle Union? Just some ideas… We’d love to see them all back on Netflix!
Considering Netflix nabbed two pretty sizable stars in Josh Duhamel (NBC’s Las Vegas, the Transformers movies, Buddy Games) and Minka Kelly (NBC’s Friday Night Lights, Max’s Titans, HBO’s Euphoria, best-selling author of Tell Me Everything), it’s hopeful the quality of the series rises to their level.
While massive fan-favorites, Netflix’s hit feel-good romantic dramas Virgin River and Sweet Magnolias can tend to be so saccharine sweet you’ll get a cavity or so slow-paced you could doze off an episode or two into a binge-watch. Here’s to hoping for some action, adventure, and (of course) intriguing — maybe even steamy?! — romance from the new show.
Ransom Canyon has the incredible potential to be one of the biggest new Netflix original series, and there’s no doubt Duhamel and Kelly are the perfect duo to help launch the streaming service further into its romantic drama series niche. As of its official announcement on Dec. 5, 2023, there are no filming details, though it’s likely to begin production sometime in 2024 after Duhamel wraps his commitments to the film Off the Grid.
Stay tuned for more news and updates on the new series from Netflix Life!