On Monday's episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight: A cranky Mady and Cara get a timeout. (After they complain about a sign-making project, their dad snaps and sends them inside the house.) The sextuplets join Jon (wearing a "Lies Lies Lies Lies" t-shirt) to sell lemonade at a local firehouse and try on firemen's helmets. As the twins (at school) miss out on the fun again, Kate takes the younger kids to milk cows and play with kittens at a neighboring dairy farm.
The real event of the night? The end of the reality series itself — as precipitated by the end of Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage. (Their divorce may be finalized by the end of this year, as reported Monday.)
Happier times: relive all the memories with the Gosselins' family album
Punctuating the estranged couple's two separate outings with their six younger children, the husband and wife — who share zero screen time together — spoke their piece to the cameras for the last time for the show's finale.
Jon, 32, admits that he initially "took advantage" of his separation from Kate to behave immaturely; having married at age 22, he says, "maybe I'm reverting to 23." But, the embattled father insists, "I'm moving forward, I know what I have to do. To become friends with Kate. To continue my relationship with Hailey [Glassman]."
Of her soon-to-be-ex-husband's relationship with Glassman and other women, Kate, 34, says she's kept her eight kids in the dark:
"They don't know about the girlfriends at all. That's just too warped for them, too unhealthy for them to know. They're learning at this age by watching us what it's like to be an adult, but that's the last thing I want them to know."
She later emphasizes her goal to remain "neutral" about her children's father. "They love him and they need to see him . . . It is what it is. He's still their dad and I will never discourage them from being with him."
And while Jon doesn't mention Hailey again, he speaks romantically about his new home in Manhattan. The Big Apple, he says, is "like 'work.'…Although I live there, it's not like I'm at my house. Now it's like I have a place to go."
The family property in Wernersville, Penn., he says, is now his "country place": "When I get sick of the city and all the press and the media, I cross the [George Washington Bridge], I go back to my country place and I can just chill," he explains. "I've got the best of both worlds right now."
Kate seems less rosy-eyed about her new reality as a single mom. "Don't kid yourself," she quips. "When I'm driving to get school supplies with the kids or try on shoes . . . it always crosses my mind that I should be in the passenger seat and Jon should be driving. Every single time."
"To clarify," she continues, "maybe I wanted roles to change and for people to step up and stress loads to shift. [But] I never wanted him absent from that driver's seat."
Less nostalgic for the past, Jon notes, "It's unfortunate that our marriage failed, but our family shouldn't fail. We're gonna have to strive to be the best parents we can whether we're married or not." Unexpectedly, he adds: "we're definitely not gonna be married again."
"I'm always gonna be there for my kids no matter what," he declares.
Fighting back tears, Kate mourns the show as well as her marriage. "I never had a clear picture of how it would end. It's too soon," she says softly. The conclusion of the series, she says, is "useless, pointless, totally avoidable."
Before a greatest-memories montage plays at the hour's conclusion, Kate thanks her supporters and TLC. "I'm very grateful for the opportunity. The memories — for the memories on tape…I'm thankful for the support. for people who took us into their rooms and watched my kids grow up."
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