Friday, June 17, 2011

Family Jewels - When Reality is Real

Gene Simmons & Family. (photo: A&E)
I don't believe it is any big secret that I adore so- called reality TV. Anyone that follows me on twitter (@clevelandchick) has seen my "Survivor Mom tweets." I love shows that I call Docu-Reality. These programs follow regular people on a regular day in their regular life. Shows like Parking Wars,  The Real World (season 1),  and a favorite of mine - Gene Simmons Family Jewels.

I first started watching the show, unsure of what to expect. After a few episodes I was hooked. Interwoven into the "story" of each episode are home movies of Shannon (Gene's long time girlfriend) and their two children, Nick and Sophie. The program then cuts to present day and off we go to a sold out Kiss concert or to a nail salon.

What I find most endearing about Family Jewels, is the same thing that won my heart with the Osbournes... at the end of the day, they have the same problems as I do, except in a much nicer home. How many times have we had a neighbor that drove us to the edge? Sharon Osbourne did. She chucked a ham over the fence at a "techno blaring late into the night" neighbor. Classic.

On the season premiere of Family Jewels, Shannon welcomes Nick and Sophie home from college for dinner and is waiting for Gene to show up for dinner. And waiting. And waiting. Finally the kids dig in and Shannon goes to bed. Meanwhile, there are cut aways to Gene at a business meeting with lots of floozies. And then someone sends Shannon a text. She checks online and sees that TMZ has posted a pic of Gene leaving the restaurant, floozy under each arm.


Something for Shannon finally snapped. She confronts Gene about the women, and he mumbles along, and eventually agrees to go to see, in his words, a shrink.

The episode ends with Gene out of the house and  Shannon packing up heading for the door. She was upset and crying and trying to get out the door that was stuck shut. Ugh. At that point, the show was no longer mere entertainment. There was nothing funny about what I was watching. It was like watching Intervention - someone's life was raw and exposed in front of you. There was no director telling Shannon to keep crying and tugging on a door you can't unlock, trapping her in front of the cameras a little too long.

In the past couple of days, Shannon and Gene have been on a few awkward news programs doing publicity for the show. One of the programs even resulted in Shannon walking off in the middle of the interview. Folks jumped online and claimed it was all a show. More publicity from the master Gene Simmons.

I'm here to tell you that I'm about as jaded as they come. But, I didn't see a scripted performance. The emotions from the family were real. All due respect to the family, I don't think they are that good of actors to pull it off.

Will I be watching next week? Absolutely. But this time, I'm not watching for shenanigans. This time, I'm watching to see if the family can come back together and make it work.

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