GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS SHINES
March 20, 2010
'Gene Simmons Family Jewels' shines as it nears a reality milestone

By Michael Starr

It's unrealistic -- if not downright impossible -- to watch everything that premieres on TV.

So I've only seen bits and pieces of "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" over the years and didn't have any preconceived opinions of the A&E series -- which premiered in 2006 and celebrates its 100th episode this season as TV's longest-running family reality show (overtaking MTV's "The Osbournes" for that niche honor).

What I did see, in watching tomorrow night's fifth-season premiere, is a show meshing the requisite reality elements -- including facing-the-camera "confessionals," underscored here with weirdly "Leave It to Beaver"-type music -- with some genuine emotion.
It's obvious that KISS frontman Gene Simmons, despite all his public bravado and bluster (overbearing at times), loves his longtime partner, former Playboy centerfold/actress Shannon Tweed, and their kids -- Nick, 21 and Sophie, 17. And it's obvious those feelings are mutual.

I think that explains some of this show's appeal, and why it's had such a long shelf life ("Family Jewels" has averaged roughly 2 million viewers each season).

Since I'm not a regular viewer, perhaps I was influenced by what transpires in tomorrow's season opener, as Shannnon discovers a lump in her breast (while out shopping for clothes in LA with her sister, Tracy Tweed) and undergoes a biopsy -- keeping all but the most basic information from Gene, who's just embarked on yet another long KISS tour.

There is absolutely nothing contrived as cameras record Shannon's journey when she's given the news about the lump, has the biopsy (on camera), then nervously awaits the results -- preferring to keep her emotions to herself rather than "burden" her family.

I'm not sold on the idea of having had cameras there to record Shannon's biopsy, not because it's graphic (it isn't), but because you'd think such a private moment should remain, well, private.

But in this information overload age of Twitter and Facebook, it's not all-that-surprising this was included in the show -- and kudos to Shannon for being honest enough with herself, and with the show's viewers, to share her experience in this fashion. And she and Gene have since become advocates in the fight against breast cancer -- so no argument from me.

Check it out.