Can Gene Simmons Really Change?

“Who would marry an asshole like you?”

It’s the million dollar question.  Who in their right mind would commit to someone who 1. isn’t naturally monogamous, 2. proudly boasts about his numbers and 3. puts work ahead of his family?

“I would.”

When last we left Gene Simmons Family Jewels this past July, there was a cliffhanger.  After realizing how desperate he was to have her in his life, the terrified Demon whisked his longtime love Shannon Tweed away to Belize for a romantic getaway.

Despite being thwarted at every opportunity he had to deliver a memorable proposal in an exotically historic location (she couldn’t hear him on a noisy, private plane overlooking The Great Blue Hole, he was out of breath on top of a Mayan temple) he finally found his moment on a pier during a particularly windy early evening.

After a heartfelt speech, he went down on one knee.  Tweed was completely freaked out and erupted into tears, clutching her face with her hand the entire time.  “Please marry me,” Simmons asked.  There was no answer.  Just stunned silence.

Three months later, we finally learn what happened next.

After posing the asshole question (“to make him sweat a little”, she later tells Dr. Wexler, the on-screen family therapist we first met in season six), followed by an uncomfortable pause, she answers her own question in the affirmative.

To Tweed’s credit, though, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly anymore.  In the surprisingly balanced and revealing hour-long seventh season premiere, we learn she has a reasonable amount of reservations about marrying Simmons.

His chronic infidelities and overbooked work schedule, as always, are the two biggest thorns in her overly patient side.  (“I just want to be first for a change,” she reasonably declares at one point.)

But then there’s the matter of why Simmons proposed in the first place.  As Shannon openly discusses all the various feelings (both good and bad) that flooded through her during the proposal, she’s honest enough to admit that maybe Gene only did it because it was what she wanted, not because he suddenly decided marriage was for him.

As a result, the whole experience is “bittersweet” from her perspective.  (It wasn’t the kind of proposal she had hoped for after all these years but she’s glad she finally got one.)  She ultimately fears he misinterpreted her desires as an ultimatum (marry me or I walk).

She has always longed to be the only lover in his life and to have that recognized legally, and she has always hoped that deep down he wanted the same thing despite his public criticism of marriage for decades.

So, her acceptance of Gene’s surprising offer is “conditional”, not “unconditional”.  Smart enough and experienced enough to know this is a big gamble for the couple, Tweed insists on not being disrespected anymore by Simmons’ constant screwing around.  This can only work if he plays ball.

And therein lies part of the problem.  As we learn firsthand from Shannon, Gene is not an open book when it comes to sex.  He deletes his voicemail and text messages constantly, arousing her already suspicious mind.  Through an answering service, he has a way of knowing if any women have tried to get in touch with him.  (He tells Wexler he cancelled it.  Right.)  He has contacts all over the States.

Does this really sound like a guy ready to settle down with one person?

If that weren’t bad enough, there’s the scene where Shannon mentions to Dr. Wexler that Gene can’t promise to be monogamous.  “I’ll do my best,” is all he can manage to offer in the form of reassurance until, like a trained seal, he repeats Shannon’s promise of fidelity as stated by the shrink.  Not exactly persuasive.

Once the word gets out to family and friends that they’re actually going to get married, however, the episode loses its familiar dramatic hostility and reverts back to the lighthearted hilarity that defined most of the episodes from the first five seasons.

From son Nick’s hilarious T-shirt (“Not A Bastard Anymore”) to Gene’s frustration with his adorable mother as he tries to make his big announcement to her, this is one of the funniest Family Jewels episodes I’ve seen in quite some time.  In a nice bit of continuity from season six, Gene’s lovely Israeli family (who he first met not too long ago never knowing he was related to them) make a surprise, touching appearance at his impromptu engagement party.

But by the end of the episode, the stress the couple has been feeling seeps right back in once talk of planning a wedding takes over.  Shannon isn’t entirely convinced, despite Gene’s continuous reassurances, that her longtime companion is willing to go through all of this.  (Even his frequent suggestion they elope is met with disdain.  She openly wonders if he’s having second thoughts.)  With Kiss making a new album and planning another tour as well as a cruise (not to mention promotion for said ventures), and Gene accepting an offer to do a series of speaking engagements, it’s still clear what Simmons’ top priority is.

As a result, the couple have a very small window to work with if they want to get married quickly.  No wonder Gene starts feeling “hazy” by the end of the show.  (The episode ends oddly with a laid out Simmons riding in the back of an ambulance.  Uh oh.)

As we all know, they actually did get married on-camera on October 1st in front of 400 invited guests.  (Look for that episode to air on A&E October 18th.)  And apparently, it all went well.

But does anyone really believe marriage will change Gene Simmons for the better?  Throughout the seventh season premiere, astute skepticism and doubt reign supreme from Shannon’s deep reservations to Gene’s lack of a convincing attitude change to Shannon’s mom’s line about determining someone’s future behaviour by examining their earlier behaviour to even Gene’s mom’s insistence that his longtime love never leave him alone for a second.  All red flags even The Who’s Tommy couldn’t miss.

Next week, A&E plans to air two one-hour episodes of Family Jewels back-to-back as we continue to learn about the backstory that led to that past weekend’s reportedly lavish wedding.  Looks like we’ll get more planning sequences, more internal tension, a health scare and scenes from a weekend couples retreat that Shannon tweeted about back in the summer.

Overall, it doesn’t look pretty, especially Shannon’s insistence that she’s not looking for an “open marriage”.  In the end, I’m not at all buying the idea that a 62-year-old rock icon, very set in his ways and acutely aware of the power of his image and legacy, can suddenly, through a little therapy and an act of painfully transparent desperation become the kind of man Tweed has always wanted to marry.

For their family’s sake, I hope I’m wrong.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
1:14 a.m.

CLARIFICATION & UPDATE:  The cliffhanger episode was actually not the end of the sixth season.  It was the end of the first half.  TVshowsonDVD.com is reporting that A&E is planning to release the entire 2011 run of Family Jewels episodes on two box sets:  Season Six Part One and Season Six Part Two.  Look for them both on June 12.  The real seventh season is expected in 2012.  However, no official announcement has been made yet about the show’s return.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
5:02 p.m.

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Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 1:14 am  Leave a Comment  

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