'Welcome to Plathville': Wait, Did Olivia Plath Force Ethan To Go No-Contact With His Family?
Updated: Jun 12
Welcome to Plathville season 4 has been a pretty tumultuous season so far. On the one hand, we have Kim and Barry Plath dealing with marital struggles. Meanwhile, we have their second-oldest daughter, Moriah Plath, grappling with being cheated on by her first boyfriend, Max, and subsequently breaking up with him. Finally, the oldest Plath son, Ethan, and his wife Olivia, continue to struggle with marital problems after going no-contact with Ethan's family and moving to Tampa, FL, for a breath of fresh air.
Viewers have long expressed concerns about Olivia's control over Ethan Plath. While many sympathize with her and understand the struggle of dealing with childhood trauma and not being accepted by one's in-laws, others worry that she has taken things too far. After all, Barry and Kim seem largely unconcerned with Olivia now, while she seems to harbor an obsession about them. For example, pressing Moriah and her boyfriend to talk about Kim and Barry, refusing to allow Moriah to invite her family to her very first concert, and even showing up at Kim and Barry's house to, basically, tell them off and then demand they give her access to their minor children.
Especially on Reddit, Olivia has some fierce advocates behind her. Hence, I tried to believe that Ethan going no-contact with his family was a mutual decision. After all, this is too big a decision for one spouse to insist their partner make. For a long time, it did seem to be true, but a strange conversation between Ethan and Olivia has me rethinking this.
Ethan & Olivia argue over Ethan's cars
The conversation starts out as a minor argument between Ethan and Olivia about Ethan's cars. At first, I actually sided with Olivia and sympathized with her. The issue is, essentially, that moving to a rental home in Tampa, FL, has interfered with Ethan's passion for cars. Back in Cairo, GA, where his family lives, Ethan had a job working in a car garage. Additionally, he owned his own property where he could work on old cars to his heart's delight. Upon moving to Tampa, he was forced to quit his job at the car garage. Meanwhile, he wouldn't be able to keep the cars on his rental Tampa property as the cost of bringing his cars to Tampa, just to have to moved them again, is not very cost beneficial.
Olivia sympathized with Ethan, but explained that there wasn't much power she had over the situation. She helped him go over options he might have to move his cars to Tampa, or to a temporary location in Tampa, or even to a car garage in Tampa where he could work. However, Ethan dragged his feet and responded negatively to all these options. He suggested that the best option would be for him to simply go to Cairo and work on his cars for about a week or two at a time until his work was complete. Olivia had a strange reason for disagreeing with this option.
What if he forgets the life he has in Tampa?
Olivia displayed quite a bit of insecurity with this suggestion, questioning if Ethan would enjoy his time in Cairo so much that he would "forget" the amazing life they have in Tampa and want to go back to Cairo. That is A LOT to unpack. What is particularly interesting, is that Olivia is so unconvinced that their life in Tampa is good, that if Ethan merely goes to Cairo, it will cause their life to crumble. Furthermore, Olivia then changes directions and indicates that she can't trust Ethan because he won't be truthful about what he is doing in Cairo.
At first glance, most would assume she's talking about Ethan potentially meeting up with another woman. I, mean, what else do you fear your husband lying about when he goes on a trip? Things get really weird, then, when Olivia reveals that she's afraid Ethan will talk to his family if he's in Cairo. So, yeah, the "other woman" that Olivia is scared Ethan will talk to, is... his mom? Olivia finishes by explaining that Ethan's parents don't want them together and that Ethan needs to stay away from people who are trying to get between their relationship.
What is Olivia actually saying?
Now, Olivia does have a point. If parents are particularly toxic and impacting a relationship, a couple most certainly has the right to choose to cut off contact. However, Olivia cannot make that choice for the both of them. From the statement she made, it seems as if she really has been the one making the decisions. If she is scared that Ethan will talk to his family if he goes to Cairo, it seems pretty obvious Ethan isn't 100% in agreement with going no-contact. I sympathize with Olivia. Truly, I do. I recently went no-contact with my own family and found it best for my personal situation. Yet, I would never insist my boyfriend go no-contact with his family unless it was absolutely his decision.
The only grounds for absolutely demanding your partner cut off all contact with his family, is if you are in real danger (e.i. being threatened, bullied, stalked, harassed). However, demanding that your husband cut-off his entire family whom he is close to just because they don't "like" you, doesn't cut it. Over the course of Welcome to Plathville, Olivia has displayed very troubling manipulative and controlling behaviors towards Ethan. She has also shown an extreme and concerning obsession with Ethan's parents, Kim and Barry. The gist of it is, Kim and Barry disagreed with Olivia's lifestyle and her influence on Ethan. They said some things they shouldn't have said and disrespected Ethan's marriage.
Still, they tried to maintain a relationship with Ethan. Ethan grew up very sheltered, making it no wonder he is extremely close his family. Olivia doesn't care about that. She doesn't see Ethan's perspective, she doesn't see the way she disrespected Kim and Barry by disrespecting the rules they had for their minor children, and she has 100% shoved forgiveness out of her mind. Lets be honest - Kim and Barry were not nice to her. However, since the beginning of the fallout - they have backed off. They are not obsessively trying to contact Ethan, they are not trying to break-up Ethan and Olivia, and they are not relentlessly attacking Olivia. They are dealing with their own life and problems and, honestly, don't seem to care much at all where Olivia is and what she is doing.
On the contrary, Kim and Barry seem to be at the forefront of Olivia's mind. She barred Moriah from inviting her own family to her very first concert, despite Moriah wanting them there. She constantly brings up Kim and Barry, even when the people she is questioning about them are clearly uncomfortable. She insisted on moving all the way to Tampa because she can't live in the same state as Kim and Barry. She even showed up at Kim and Barry's porch to tell them off (years after the fact) and demand they give her access to their minor children.
Olivia's control will not end well
I know Olivia is hurt, and likely traumatized, by what her and Ethan's parents have done to her. However, nothing gives her the right to choose for Ethan whether he goes no-contact with family. Meanwhile, it's been obvious for a long time, that is was her choice. She relentlessly badgered Ethan about moving (despite him not wanting to), obsessed over Kim and Barry, and now won't let Ethan go to Cairo because he might contact his family. If it was a mutual decision - there would be no concern about Ethan contacting his family when Olivia is not around. If she forced the decision on him then, yes, she would worry about him contacting his family - which is exactly the concern she voices in episode 3.
To be so controlling of your husband that you won't let him out of your sight lest he contact his family, is concerning to say the least. Ethan is obviously unhappy, without his passion and without his family that he clearly misses. I'm not dismissing Olivia's feelings, but sometimes you make sacrifices for the ones you love. Perhaps, if Olivia was willing to, she could even reconnect with Kim and Barry, who have let up on a lot of their stricter rules and even welcomed Olivia with open arms and asked for a hug when she randomly showed up at their house to yell at them.
Olivia's not willing to do anything, though. She is stubborn and fully consumed with herself. Kim and Barry hurt Olivia's feelings, so Ethan is apparently never allowed to talk to his parents again, nor his five younger siblings until they move away. It's not right. It has been obvious for a long time that Ethan and Olivia don't want the same things. Instead of addressing this in a healthy manner, Olivia has insisted that Ethan simply does everything she says.