"No one can say we didn't give it a shot," Olivia says. PLUS: Lydia reveals she has a boyfriend and Kim and Barry take a major step in their divorce
The season 5 finale of TLC's Welcome to Plathville may have wrapped up a number of its storylines — but they hardly created a pretty bow.
As the minutes wound down on the Plath family reality series, Ethan and Olivia reached a tearful conclusion about the future of their marriage while parents Kim and Barry were at the end of their divorce process, cordially dividing assets. Thankfully, there was one family member who couldn't contain their joy: Lydia.
The 19-year-old was beaming as she revealed, "I've actually been dating someone for quite a while."
While she did not share his name or show his face — though there was a photo of them taken outside and from the back of her smiling up at him as they took in the view from a high place — she did add that, "he is amazing, just an amazing man of God."
"We met through mutual friends," she continued. "It's sweeter than I could have asked for or thought of or dreamed of, and it's more beautiful than I could have imagined. We wanted to keep it private, just to grow in our relationship, to make sure we're steady and firm and everything before throwing it out there. And my family knows: They love him too."
Lydia concluded by saying that her parents' divorce hasn't "shattered" her belief in marriage.
Speaking of, Kim, 51, and Barry, 55, were in a more peaceful place than the last time viewers saw them interact. They were wrapping up elements of their divorce and moving their things out of the family home, which they would soon be putting up for sale.
As the parents of 10 divided up everything from furniture to family photos, it was clear the pair, who had been married nearly 25 years when they announced their plan to divorce in June 2022, were more comfortable moving forward than they had been earlier in the season.
"I feel like if Barry had been able to tune in emotionally to what's going on years ago, then, you know, we would probably be on a different path right now," Kim admitted.
And Barry noted, "There is another chapter that comes once you get through the process of grieving the loss of a relationship. It does come to an end. You do make it through. You do come out OK. You're like, 'OK, if I can survive that and I can actually mature through it, I can actually come out better understanding relationships hopefully for the next time around, if there ever is one' Hopefully I've learned something.
"Kim and I will always be bonded through 25 years worth of great experiences," he added.
Kim shared similar sentiments: "Barry and I were together for 25 years, and the best parts of that were every single one of those children that we brought into the world, raising them and growing with them and having fun with them and laughing with them. I wouldn't trade those 25 years of marriage for anything because of the beautiful children that it produced."
She also shared that she and Ken Palmer, 57, were still dating, that he had met all the kids who live locally, and that she was still considering his offer to move in with him.
"Down the road, I do see the inevitable: A blended family event where Kim's with her significant other, because, yeah, that's what the children want. They want their mom and dad together. They want their mom and dad together and everything in harmony. And so sometimes I have to go the extra mile so I can get along," Barry said. "It's amazing that now I have restored relationships with all my children on down to Ethan. What I want to show them is that they're just loved. You can't go wrong with that approach. Because there are so many out there that have never heard their father say I love you."
Indeed, over the course of the season, Ethan, 25, the eldest Plath child who'd grown estranged to the rest of his family, slowly began to renew his relationship with his father and his siblings. The season finale began with the conclusion of his conversation with his sister Moriah, with whom he'd barely spoken for nearly a year. It wasn't a perfect conversation — but, as Ethan said, "We're both trying, and that's a start."
Several other Plath siblings shared updates: Micah, 22, concluded the season still in California, but grateful he could show off its beauty to some of his family members. Isaac, 18, who was working on his pilot's license, revealed that he still has a few more months of school, but plans to be the first member of the family to go to college and get a four-year degree; he hopes to get a job with an airline afterward. And in addition to her conversation with Ethan, Moriah, 21, wrapped up the season by having her new single, "Circus," play in the episode.
Plathville saved the update from Ethan and Olivia, 25, for the final 10 minutes. The couple, who wed in October 2018 when both were just 20 years old, had been struggling to see eye-to-eye on several important matters — including communication, politics, religion and how to raise the hypothetical children they both wanted — in the latter half of the season, and both had been questioning if their marriage could or should continue.
As their couchside conversation proceeded, it quickly became clear that they had reached a breaking point.
"One of the biggest things that could be done on your end to try to make this work would be to go back and try to mend your relationships with your family and try to get back to some of the roots and values that were instilled in you and how you grew up," Ethan told Olivia, who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home and has been speaking out about her negative experiences in recent years. "I feel like if you're searching for something that you haven't found that maybe is trying to take the place of that, and I don't know if there is a replacement."
"The faith and the world that I grew up in was a world built for men, that worked for men. And to tell me that I need to go back to a culture and a faith and a belief that told me that I was worth nothing without a husband, that in a relationship I just need to submit and say yes and cook three meals a day and praise God and it would all be fine," she responded. "I don't think you understand the privilege you have to look at me and tell me I need to go back to that because it served you."
Ethan snapped back: "There are roles that a man plays that are different than a woman plays, and roles that a woman plays are different than a man plays, and that's natural. That's inherent in us. And the whole thing, cooking three meals a day, that is one of the only keys to a man's heart. When's the last time you cooked a meal?"
Later, he added, "I feel like I have to draw a line in the sand and say this is the absolute limit where my personal beliefs will let me go with where you are now and bringing kids into the mix with that because they're just not compatible. ... I first told you things that I've been holding inside for a long time, and that is that if there was anyone on the face of this earth today that I could have kids with, I would want it to be you. And I love you very much and I wish that that's the way that things could be. But I also, in good conscience, holding the beliefs and values that I have and with the way that you have changed, I can't see how I can do that. There's just things I'm not OK with the children that I raise growing up to think and believe. It's a matter of principle to me."
Tearfully, Olivia responded, "I'm the kid of two people whose principles matter more than a relationship with their daughter, and I will be damned if I repeat that. So yeah, it hurts that I feel like I've been committed to this relationship, and I do feel that you've made the choice for us to not be together. But I support the choice, and I do think that that's the right move for what we both want our futures to look like."
"I love you as a person," she adds. "I think we're not the right romantic partners for each other, but I still love you and I still want the best for you. No one can say we didn't give it a shot."
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A final end card stated that "Olivia and Ethan have mutually decided to file for divorce." The pair publicly announced their separation on Oct. 27.
Welcome to Plathville is available for streaming on Max.
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