Before the premiere of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” (Tues. 9 p.m. on A&E), I was concerned that last season’s emotional rollercoaster would amble to a dull, TV-friendly finish. We already know Simmons and longtime girlfriend Shannon Tweed tied the knot on October 1, so it seemed pretty safe to assume that all of the problems that had plagued Tweed (Simmons’ serial infidelity, his inability to communicate, his workaholism) have been neatly shoved under the rug, never to be addressed again.
But to Tweed’s credit, Simmons didn’t get off so easily on the show’s season debut. He may have gotten a yes and she did, in fact, take the enormous engagement ring he offered her, but she wasn’t letting him use marriage as a get out of jail free card. “Who’d want to marry an a—— like you?” Tweed asks, letting Simmons think he’ll be flying home alone to pack his things before sobbing, “I would, I would.” Clearly, this isn’t going to be so easy.
Though the show tries (unsuccessfully) to drag out the will-she-or-won’t-she suspense at the beginning of the show, we soon see Tweed and Simmons in their therapist’s office talking about what still had to change so that the marriage wasn’t simply an empty promise. Tweed mentions that Simmons’ has long kept secret voice mail accounts and phone lines for his flings (he quickly points out he’s gotten rid of them), but Tweed isn’t going to learn to trust her newly monogamous fiance overnight. After 27 years of infidelity, who can blame her? Simmons doesn’t exactly fall all over himself to convince her he’s a new man, either. Both Tweed and the therapist have to goad Simmons into saying that yes, he’ll be committed to the marriage. Honestly, if Tweed were smart, she’d draw up a savvy prenup, get hitched and then take Simmons to the cleaners after he falls off the monogamy wagon, but maybe they’re saving that for next season.
Tweed tells the therapist (and Simmons) her assumedly new take on life: “Love is conditional, because you have to be treated a certain way for your own self-respect,” she says, her eyes steely and her voice firm (and I’ll say it again — if all of this is completely scripted, which I am not ruling out, Tweed really should get back into acting). Simmons seems to understand that, for whatever reason, things are different for Tweed now and he has to play by the rules of take his KISS paraphernalia and go home. But even that doesn’t mean everything is ducky for these two.
After the couple returns home to a surprise party thrown by the kids (Nick’s “A Longer a Bastard” t-shirt is oddly endearing), it seems that we’re going to trudge into familiar reality TV territory. Simmons’ family from Israel shows up for a surprise reunion! Tweed Skypes her mom to tell her about the proposal (she and Simmons already stopped in at his mom’s house in New York)! There’s a wedding to plan! Magazines to read! Oh boy! Tweed and Simmons cuddle on the sofa during an interview segment, and Simmons says, “If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to spend the rest of my life with you.”
When Tweed quietly replies, “I’ll be lucky, too,” it’s hard not to be charmed. Maybe it’s okay if the show retreats into fluff. What we’ve seen of the Simmons and Tweed over the years has been reliably entertaining, to say the least, so it’s not like this family hasn’t earned a happy ending.
But when Simmons tells Tweed scheduling the wedding won’t be easy due to his many, many business obligations, another thorny issue is brought to the forefront. Tweed knows all too well that Simmons thinks every dollar he owns will be his last one, but she’s clearly getting a little sick of being cast aside for a KISS cruise or whatever other lucrative nonsense he has in the works. “Someday I’m going to be first,” she tells the therapist, although her expression says pretty clearly she never really expects that day to come around. I guess we should all be happy that Tweed and Simmons finally got it together and tied the knot, but it’s hard not to think that there’s not enough therapy in the world to make this a fairytale ending.
Are you excited that Tweed and Simmons tied the knot? Do you think Simmons has changed his ways? Do you think the break up/marriage plot was completely scripted?