Take one long tongued Kiss rocker, a saucy former Playboy model, no marriage, loads of dough, two kids, and what do you get?
Gene Simmons and his really, really not screwed up family.
The Simmons seem more functional than any Real Housewife from Orange County, NY or NJ, a group of women whose dogs are probably popping Xanax just to manage the daily drama.
It’s possible the producers of the reality show Gene Simmons: Family Jewels are hiding therapy sessions and verbal lashings behind the Simmons’ bedroom doors, but since that kind of who-hates-who tv misery gets viewers drooling and the ratings up, probably not.
I’ve voyeured this show enough hours to know that how this family acts, is how this family IS.
But aren’t Gene and his girlfriend Shannon the epitome of depraved, living in sin, bastard-producing spawn’s of the devil who couldn’t possibly know the true meaning of family as well as, say, Jim Baker or a Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family?
Dr. Dobson and his followers promote marriage as the righteous way and are sure only heterosexuals will head north after they die. Not so he says for the gays and lesbians, pack for hotter eternal weather. And certainly don’t expect the heavens to open up for non-straights who love each other and want to make their relationship legal by, gasp, getting married.
So something certainly must be amiss with Gene and his mixed up version of family. Shouldn’t the aging Kiss star who bagged thousands of groupies and his sexy girlfriend who never gets the ring be throwing resentful pots and pans at each other by now?
Shouldn’t they be hauling their kids Nick and Sophie out of re-hab and asking the question most teen parents ask?
How on God’s green earth did their kids turn sour after being flooded with self-esteem and giving them everything they ever wanted?
But the Simmons aren’t asking those questions. They’re asking how “despite” themselves, the kids turned out so well.
Nick and Sophie seem strikingly normal and well-adjusted, and Gene and Shannon seem incredibly happy, and well, giddy.
As far as parenting goes I’ve seen kids act more spoiled without one millionth the fame or fortune Sophie and Nick Simmons have.
Could it be that Gene and Shannon have The Secret?
Maybe Gene sowed so many oats his farm equipment is tired and Shannon knew what she was in for. No one tried to mold the other and the kids were always a central part of their lives, just not the only part of their lives.
I used to wonder if Gene cheated on the side but lie detector results during one episode proved he keeps his tongue and zipper housed at home.
At risk of down-sizing the Kiss star’s puffy ego and self-promoted playboy persona; Gene’s all false swagger which makes for good long term relations. Shannon gets all his sexy confidence and none of the idiotic behavior.
For the most part I sensed Gene wasn’t screwing around because of the way he smiles at Shannon. It’s a look that says, I like you, I really like you and I KNOW I have it good.
He once asked Shannon if she would be with him if he wasn’t a famous rocker, and she flat out told him no. These two are so without games and pretense there’s nothing left to disappoint each other in their old age.
The Simmons laugh and banter as much as other couples fight and throw passive aggressive silence at each other. Gene is the primary target and it’s obvious the attention feeds his ego and stokes his deep love for his family. Nick, Sophie and Shannon throw out soft barbs while Gene smiles patiently amused.
There’s a rhythm with the Simmons family that just works.
Mr. Simmons is a rock and roller who still loves his music, the spotlight and the next mega money deal. But he’s also an old Jewish soul who acts like a polite and mild curmudgeon who knows what really matters.
His larger than life ego would be revolting if it weren’t mostly for show and wrapped inside his gentle demeanor.
The kids are are adored but don’t run the house, and the parents know that ruining a good thing by getting into cheating, alcohol or drugs is not an option.
Shannon is smart and funny and noticeably not full of herself. Flexible when it doesn’t hurt to give in, she’s a confident matriarch in the mix of Gene’s pretend royal kingdom. Maybe Shannon senses what real disrespect, rather than the Simmons’ feigned version, could do to topple their family dynamics.
While this clan appear to take their relationships with each other seriously, none of them take themselves too seriously.
The rocker and the playboy bunny somehow raised two polite, funny, smart and really nice kids.
I’m actually a big fan of marriage. I like the institution, only more for romantic and pragmatic reasons than religious ones. I’m a bigger fan of relationships that work and are a joy to watch, relationships that show kids how couples should act if they’re serious about going the long haul.
Kids seem to turn out better when their parents like each other.
The Simmons are on to something Dr. Dobson wouldn’t admit: Marriage may not be the panacea to heal society’s spiraling moral downfall.
It helps to be extremely choosy; it helps to like your partner and to know what you signed on for, it helps to be attracted to each other in physical and non-physical ways, it helps to have a never ending sense of humor and to make having genuine respect for everyone in the family non-negotiable.
If the Simmon’s family dynamic doesn’t fit inside society’s view of what makes a solid family then perhaps we need to make a little room for something called the painful truth.
If it works, don’t knock it.
There’s no need for “pro-marriage” groups to “promote” marriage; I’m pretty sure the public knows matrimony is still an attractive option, a mighty fine choice if implemented properly. There’s also no reason to suggest non-marriage is the truly committed’s way to keep relationships from turning sour.
Legal contract or loosey goosey one, good relationships work. Oh and lighten up a little. You used to think your spouse was funny once upon a time.