The Truth About Gina And Pat Neely's Divorce

It's been a long time since anyone has seen Pat and Gina Neely together onscreen. The two used to co-host Food Network's "Down Home With The Neelys," which ran from 2008 to 2014 (via IMDb). The show, which featured Pat, a longtime restaurateur and his charmingly effervescent wife, Gina, cooking in their kitchen at the home they shared in Memphis, Tennessee, was an unprecedented smash hit (via Gina Neely's website). Viewers loved watching the warm, funny, and seemingly typical married couple dynamics between Pat and Gina, not to mention the down-home wisdom the two had to offer about food and cooking, especially Southern cooking and barbecue. Sadly, however, all was not as it seemed.

Despite the seemingly pleasant demeanor between the Neelys, (even People made mention of how happy the two appeared), the former high school sweethearts, each of whom were married and divorced once before, shocked the foodie world in September 2014 by announcing their separation in a joint statement and their divorce came swiftly after (via People). In the years since, both Pat and Gina have spoken out about their split. And, from the sound of things, the show and its success may have had something to do with the end of their marriage.

Gina and Pat Neely seemed to want different things

Although both Gina and Pat had been undertaking individual projects in the year prior to announcing their separation, the news took fans of "Down Home With The Neelys" by surprise. It also appears to have taken Pat, himself, by surprise (via People). However, as Gina told the magazine, the bubbly, affectionate relationship they showcased on TV "wasn't healthy or happy." Although things may have seemed rosy onscreen, the Neely's marriage had been rocky right from the very start of the show. "I never wanted to be a TV chef," Gina recalled to People. "I was a branch manager at a bank. I was going to divorce Pat prior to the show. And then all of a sudden the train jumped on the track and I had to hold on for my life."

And, at the root of the problems may have been the show's incredible success, which appears to have made Gina question what she really wanted to be doing with her life. Pat was a lifelong foodie and came from a family of restaurateurs. Meanwhile, Gina had other dreams that she appears to have set aside for the sake of Pat and their show. It was "Pat's dream," Gina explained to People. "Everybody was over the moon except for me." It wasn't the life she had planned for herself.

The show put a big strain on their marriage

Filming "Down Home With The Neelys" also forced the couple to be around each other all the time, which would have been difficult for any marriage, let alone one that was already on the rocks. Gina told People the dynamic was not good for their relationship, with Pat becoming more of a "business partner" to her than a husband. Compounding this is the fact that the show grew "bigger than the marriage," to the point where there was "no balance, no boundaries" and "It didn't feel like a marriage anymore." The result wore on Gina, who said she would "cry anywhere anyone couldn't see me."

But while Gina's dream was never to be a TV chef, she does recall some good times on the show, specifically getting to share her family's history and stories with her audience. She also did not want her daughters to grow up without a father, as she had, so she put in effort to try to make their marriage work, including attending couples therapy. But after five failed attempts to leave the marriage, Gina finally had to admit "I was done."

Pat Neely says he'll "always cherish" getting to do the show

By 2014, the strain on their marriage had all become too much for the couple, and they finally called it quits after over 20 years together. Following their divorce, Gina starred on "To Rome for Love," where she tried, unsuccessfully, to find love (via Bravo). After they split, Pat said he thought he'd "never get married again," but that changed a couple years later, when he met a registered nurse-anesthetist named Tamika Parks, whom he married in 2017.

And despite the fact that it was Gina's choice to end their relationship, Pat says he "respected" her decision and harbors no ill feelings towards his ex-wife. "One of the things that I'll always cherish about 'Down Home with the Neelys' was that I had an opportunity to get on television every day and invite people into our home," he told People. "And I was able to share that with my high school sweetheart, a woman I truly loved, and to be me. I never had to act."