I am not a reality show fan. I have enough reality in my life. I watch television to be entertained and project myself into situations I would never experience in reality, so why my channel surfing finger stalled on “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” is a mystery to me. Unlike the “Housewives” of Stepford and the string of reality show spinoffs, I must admit I am a Gene Simmons fan now, and have been since I first watched the show.
I always was a blind “Kiss” fan, preferring not to watch the ridiculous costumes and tongue wagging (which I never understood, but then I don’t get the name either). I tuned in to “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” during one of Shannon Tweed’s home movies and was impressed by the “normalcy” of the scenes. The show continued, introducing me to the close knit family life of Gene Simmons et al.
Of course, the house is a mansion, the shopping is obscene, and the kids have been raised in the lap of luxury, but, and this is a big one, there is a certain down-to-earth likeability in this family that seems to be extremely rare in the world of the celebrity. I felt comfortable, not like a voyeur watching bubbleheads plot the next degrading ratings raiser.
Gene and Shannon have never married, for whatever reason, but the length and strength of their twenty plus year relationship might give the traditionalists something to ponder. Gene’s well documented ego carries no weight in Simmons/Tweed household and Shannon is a force to be reckoned with in the partnership. In season three, a Gene Simmons “Roast” is arranged when the family decides that Gene’s ego needs to be brought down a peg or two. The star studded event took place, and while Gene was duly “roasted” to the delight of Shannon and his two children, Nick and Sophie, money was also raised for the “Wounded Warriors Charity”. Did I mention the generosity of the Simmons clan?
The kids have been brought up with traditional values and serious responsibilities. Both Nick and Sophie seem to be well-grounded, because of, and at times in spite of, the advantages available to them. A favorite episode of mine was “Uncle Gene Wants You”. Sophie has a school assignment on the armed forces, and Gene takes his daughter to Camp Pendleton. Both are genuinely inspired by their experience, and Gene records an anthem for the armed forces and returns to perform it. Anyone not moved by the conclusion of this episode has no sense of patriotism.
Gene Simmons is a man of many faces. His outrageous “God of Rock and Roll” image is a dichotomy attached to his love of family and his acts of good will. He is an attentive and loving son, a determined parent making up for the lost years sacrificed while building his career, a work-a-holic constantly justifying his desire to set the example for his kids, and a willing participant in an equal and respectful relationship with his soul mate.
The reality in this reality show is “real”. A normal day in the Simmons’ household includes kitchen food fights, dodging laundry duties, sibling rivalries and pranks, ordinary family disagreements, and the necessary glue that holds family together…humor. “Snowblind” was another great episode in which any red-blooded American dad can find themselves walking (or stumbling around) in Gene Simmons’ shoes. “Loose Change” is not only a lesson for Nick in financial affairs, but an exercise in hilarity.
Set aside the glitz and glamour of a rock star. It isn’t on the “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” home front episodes, which are the most enjoyable to watch. If you haven’t seen the show, take a peek at some I’ve mentioned here. If you visualize Gene Simmons in “Kiss” drooling blood and curling his foot long tongue, and aren’t particularly impressed, you could be in for a pleasant surprise.