With science fiction dramas – read Stranger Things and crime documentaries like Tinder Swindler grabbing eyeballs, it was thought that the era of conventional family-focused soap operas had witnessed POOF…extinction! Then Heartland arrived!
The Canadian broadcast with the main protagonist Amy Fleming as the horse whisperer and the ups and downs in the Fleming-Bartlett’s rustic but authentic family life on the Montana-set ranch got all hearts from the audience. The show ranked big on Netflix charts. Still does.
So, if you’ve been a fan of this gorgeously landscaped show and its adorable characters, we’ve added more than a dozen of ‘The Heartland Feels’ shows to make you go on a popcorn cum episode-binging spree while you get hooked to these 21 amazingly stirring storylines. Here you go!
21. McLeod’s Daughters
McLeod’s Daughters aired on Australia’s Nine Network and found its fans spanning Canada, the US, Ireland, and Europe. The saga is intriguing- five hard-working women co-owing a cattle station in the Land Down Under outback…this one stands as quite refreshing in the category. The drama isn’t another fake projection of the placid life on the ranch. The profundity of the characters and the storyline on this prime soap will amaze you.
The series beautifully narrates the harsh intricacies and naked truths of the farm life like, for example, the sheep being bought in at a lower cost because they are frail & skinny and them collapsing while heading back to the ranch as the carrier truck breaks down in the middle of the road! Mate, McLeod’s Daughters is a compelling show that you should definitely watch once and more.
If you’ve been watching countryside soaps for their gorgeous male and female cast or the rebellious horses, Yellowstone adds the dark, dangerous side and politics to the mix. The American TV series is all about deception, murder, and shifting alliances gripping the Dutton family.
Set out in Montana, Yellowstone is led by Kevin Costner – his character sketched as John Dutton, who is fighting tooth and nail to save his land from the shady who’s who, the unscrupulous government, tribal claims, and ruthlessly ambitious developers. But in the whole scheming scenario, is it his own family that may be out to destroy him…?
ABC Family released Wildfire in 2005. A teen drama that revolves around the problematic Kris Furillo, who gets her redemption from her juvenile convict setting with a job at the Raintree Ranch. Kris Furillo has been portrayed by Genevieve Cortese, who has well-depicted her grappling with the sudden introduction to the ranch life of the Ritter family.
She runs the show with her passionate and romantic interludes with the ranch owner’s sons while owning her act as someone who has the natural ability to understand equine communication. Especially so when the Ritter Family gets cash-strapped and Kris rushes to the saddle to win a horse racing championship for them!
18. Northern Rescue
This Netflix plot has a single father moving his children from Boston City to the bucolic Turtle Island Bay Hometown in Ontario, owing to the death of his beloved wife.
John West, played by William Blake (the father) in Northern Rescue, and his three children, played by Amalia Williamson, Spencer MacPherson, and Taylor Thorne, emote the melancholy post-Sarah’s (the mother’s) demise. The series discerns the sheer pain and sacrifices of single parenthood.
William Baldwin in the Northern Rescue (Credits: Netflix)
On relocation, the kids face a hard time making friends in the rural landscape. The heartening story views parental death and its effects through the lens of the children. It trails on the road of where they seek inspiration, whom they role model, and what strains their relationship with their only father. Must-watch!
17. When Calls The Heart
A Hallmark Channel production, When Calls The Heart is a 20th-century period drama inspired by a book that goes by the same name, authored by Janette Oke. It is all about a youthful teacher named Elizabeth Thatcher who has had a silver-spoon upbringing.
Her maiden assignment sends her to a coal-mining town in Canada, towards the far west. As with Heartland and most series based on the theme, Elizabeth transforms into the ways of the Coal Valley, and the people of the community welcome her with open arms. When Calls The Heart is for the whole family’s entertainment and reminds us of the ‘Little House On The Prairie’!
16. Free Rein
Premiered on Netflix, Free Rein brings to your digital screens – Zoe Philip – an African American, a 15-year-old teenager who has no qualms about speaking her mind. She decides to pay a visit, one summer, to her mom Maggie’s childhood residence in the UK. When at the countryside island, the friendly teenager forges a mystical connection with Raven – a stray male horse that she meets on the beach.
It is later revealed that Raven is, in reality, the offspring of a world-recognized racehorse – Ruby Dawn! Zoe loves training Raven, helping the foal overcome his fears, and establishing a bond of love, trust, and understanding with him. Free Rein is full of bittersweet moments between Zoe and Raven and is a high-rated recommendation.
15. Hart of Dixie
Introducing Dr. Zoe Hart! She is your typical New Yorker. Ambitious, young and focused. She has her sights set on becoming a heart surgeon like her well-known father, Dr. Ethan Hart – until she fails to bag the fellowship that would fulfill her dreams. She also has a fallout with her boyfriend prior to this.
Both these incidents egg Zoe to pursue a general practitioner position in the town of Bluebell in Alabama. After goofing up with the residents and patients alike in her new area of stay, Zoe discovers that the Bluebell doctor who invited her there and left her with half of his practice office is, in fact, her real biological father!
14. The Ranch
Following the storyline of the Hart of Dixie, in The Ranch, ‘Colt Bennett’ portrayed by Ashton Kutcher, finds himself returning back to his roots and his home when his football career fails him.
The plot unveils intricacies in family dynamics as Colt, who plans on running his family ranch with his father, suddenly finds himself asking instead, ‘Where do I fit in this family?’. Well, here’s an interesting bit for you. Each of The Ranch’s episodes is titled after country music song names.
13. The Saddle Club
If you’re looking for the children’s favorite TV series in the horse-riding genre, it would undoubtedly be ‘The Saddle Club.’ This Australian-Canadian action-packed script rotates around the life of three besties who train together to take part in horse riding competitions at the Pine Hollow Stables. Based on Bonnie Bryant’s book, the edifying drama aired from 2001 on ABC to 2009.
The Saddle Club had it all for the 12-year-old girls Carole Hanson, Stevie Lake, and Lisa Atwood – picturesque horse-riding trails, flamboyant riding gear, lovely horses, and more. But there were also a lot of personal obstacles the girls had to deal with! Stevie was a brat and a tomboy at that! Lisa was too fast a learner, and Carole was healing from a family tragedy.
Also, they all had a common adversary, Veronica, who loved stepping on others’ toes to get ahead. Could The Saddle Club’s best friends overcome all their issues on the mere strength of their friendship? Well, that’s The Saddle Club’s takeaway!
12. The Man from Snowy River
When Banjo Paterson penned down the poem ‘The Man from Snowy River, ‘ little did he know that it would serve as an inspiration for an entire Australian soap saga that would be released in far corners of the US, the UK, and Canada!
The Man from Snowy River celebrates the heroics of Matt McGregor and his ‘squatting’ exploits and the subsequent implications on his relationship with kith and kin. Do not confuse this TV series with the films that were released in 1982 and 1988 under the same name.
11. Spirit Riding Free
A DreamWorks Animation Television production and Netflix distribution, Spirit Riding Free explores the small town of Miradero with the 12-year-old ‘Lucky’ whose amazing connection with the wild mustang named ‘Spirit’ and her thrilling adventures with her friends AKA ‘PALs’ as they call it in the TV series drives the story forward.
Spirit gallops through the tale beautifully – from being captured by the wranglers to being set in person and in ‘spirit’ free by none other than Lucky! This one is for girls who dream of owning horses and going on adventures with them.
10. Caitlin’s Way
Caitlin’s Way was broadcasted on Nickelodeon (2002-2002). The drama steps into the shoes of a very troubled Caitilin Seeger. Orphaned at the age of 8 post her mother’s death, she moved to many foster homes in Philadelphia. The character is infuriated and grief-stricken by her mother’s death but camouflages this brutal fact by acting tough.
She runs in with the law on more than one account, which leads to the police asking her to choose between jail or heading to a Montana ranch where her relatives reside. When the hardened city girl meets the panoramic views of Montana and its people, she goes through an inevitable culture shock. Plus, destiny shines on her through a chance to meet with a horse known as Bandit, whom she forms a wonderful bond with!
9. Ann with an E
Anne with an E has been inspired by the 1908’s classic children’s book Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The story kicks off with the brother-sister duo Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert thinking of adopting an orphan boy to help around their farm.
But instead, they come face-to-face with a bubbly, talkative girl who enters the Cuthberts home and hearth, exits it – on accounts of an alleged robbery and re-enters it only to finally find her ‘family’ in them. Having faced bullying earlier at the orphanage, post her adoption, even when she attends her schooling at the Avonlea school, she faces ample discrimination, which again leads her to fight for her survival using her smarts.
Loved by the audience, Everwoods unfolds the story of a widowed brain surgeon from Manhattan, New York, and his two kids as they make their residential transition to the Rocky Mountain Town of Everwood in Colorado.
Andrew Brown – as the physician opens a clinic in the town which already has an established doctor at their service. It takes ‘Andy’ a lot of effort to fit into the tight community environment. Also, as he now shoulders the sole parenting responsibility of Ephram and Delia, even the kids, along with the parent, undergo a lot of emotional ups and downs before they settle into Everwood.
7. All Creatures Great and Small
This wonderful TV screening is one of the latest adaptations of James Herriot’s books about countryside British veterinarians, which has been broadcasted on Channel 5 in the UK along with PBS in the US. So, what are All Creatures Great and Small about?
When Herriot moves to Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s, he doesn’t quite expect to feel like an outsider. Then slowly but surely, he finds his vet team, soothes ailing animals, and weaves sweet love with the daughter of a resident farmer, Helen.
The main protagonist of this American crime drama is Walt Longmire, played by Robert Taylor. Known as one of the busiest actors in Australia, Robert gets wonderfully into the dry remarks and introspective character of Walt Longmire – the brave Absaroka County sheriff.
Longmire, in the drama, is seen fighting to hide the extreme grief post the death of his wife, but Cady, his daughter, is intent on giving him a new leash of life. She coaxes her father to stand for re-election, which he goes along with!
What makes Longmire stand apart from other crime dramas is the lead’s camaraderie with a Cheyenne – Henry Standing Bear. Longmire consults Henry about tribal police on several occasions, and both are seen bursting into crimes in the native American landscapes with success.
5. This is Us
This is Us is pure multi-generational wisdom and inspirational insight into how the Pearson family weathers tough times. Kevin, Kate, and Randall are the children of Jack and Rebecca Pearson. Going rewind, pause and fast forward, This is Us takes you through the stellar performances that throw light on the differential yet unifying experiences that the trio siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall go through in life.
The series may not be shot in the wilderness with galloping horses, but when it comes to portraying heartwarming familial and friendship bonds like in Heartland, This is Us hit the sweet spot!
4. Chesapeake Shores
In a bid to halt and save the foreclosure of her panicked sister’s inn, Abby O’Brien packs her bag and heads to her home in Maryland from New York. Given her broken home upbringing in Maryland, today she is also a divorced mother of 8-year-old twins.
Abby had left Maryland to follow her corporate dreams, which she well realizes – she is an accomplished financial analyst by now. But her family life seems to always come apart at the seams.
The sudden arrival of her mother, who alienated her, further complicates the already fragile family dynamic. But the homebound move also gets her in touch with her former love – Trace. Abby tries her best to get her family together as one and strives for yet another chance with Trace, her true love, on the Chesapeake Shores.
The Civil War has ended. The Dutton Family (during the time period) bid goodbye to Tennessee, heading for Texas to onboard a wagon train that would take them to the mountainous terrains of Montana. The much-talked-about Yellowstone Ranch would then come alive!
1883 is a mini-series that examines the seeds of hope within the perils, as James Dutton, accompanied by his wife Margaret and kids John & Elsa, get onboard a wagon train of a European immigrant. The film traces the triumphs and tragedies that follow the journey from Texas to Montana as the wagon travelers face dacoits, apathetic diseases, and destructive tornadoes.
Zeek and Camille Braverman seem to be the perfect parents and party hosts for their children and grandchildren. But they have been hiding skeletons in their closet, which affects their now-adult children, dumbfounding them when revealed.
Parenthood is one TV show that showcases the vulnerabilities in every character and yet subtly highlights the interdependencies within the Braverman family. They are all in it together. Adam is the eldest in the family. He owns a shoe company and has a beautiful wife and two kids. Adam’s son is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
Sarah is Zeek’s divorced, middle-aged daughter with a highly rebellious teenage daughter and a shy son. Crosby stays on the boat and tries to avoid responsibilities as much as possible until his ex-date arrives at his doorstep with his kid in tow. Julia is a workaholic lawyer who marries a man who works from home and is a hands-on stay-at-home dad.
With such variance in life stories, Parenthood gives one strong lesson to us all – whatever it takes – a family that eats together stays together. The Bravermans are all about frequent family gatherings, you see!
1. One Day at a Time
The Latin sitcoms are re-molding the essential American family-oriented drama stereotypes. It started off with Ugly Betty, went on to Jane the Virgin, and then the animated Elena of Avalor. With One Step at a Time, this time around, we have an interesting Hispanic Family taking centerstage.
Penelope Alvarez is a former US Army Veteran, and she is now trying to gel into city life along with being a single mother. Her two children, Elena and Alex, are a lively bunch. Elena prides herself on being a lesbian, whereas Alex enjoys being his Grandma Lydia’s favorite. Lydia is a nonchalant Cuban at heart and supports her daughter unconditionally.
One Step at a Time is thus a comedy family drama, and it remains light-hearted and fun while delivering the most effective family values to the giggling audience. This may be off the ranch, but it has all the recipe for television success.