The season finale of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” is tonight (10 p.m. on A&E) and the network has already released a wowza preview: Gene Simmons, humbled by the events of the season, actually vows his devotion to his “girlfriend” of the last 25 years Shannon Tweed and, wait for it… proposes. It’s a little disconcerting to see the rock god who has staked his reputation on screwing around and keeping his options open staring at Tweed, equal parts fear and longing in his eyes, as he takes a knee and finally acts like a grown-up at the tender age of 61.
In the clip, we see Tweed burst into tears, so it seems like a safe assumption that she says yes. But I’ll believe it when I see it. If you’ve watched the season thus far, Tweed has flip-flopped back and forth between nostalgia and love for the man who fathered her two kids, anger at him for being stubborn and out of touch with his feelings and finally, numbness as she looks practically at a future without him. Usually these are signs that a couple is in the death throes of a relationship. As much as I’m sure Tweed has longed for Simmons to propose in the past, I have to wonder if this is too little, too late (and this is, of course, assuming this is a bit of reality in “reality” TV, unless you’re one of the many who think it’s entirely scripted – which I can’t rule out, either).
While Tweed’s wrenching arc through the season could have come directly from some Jill Clayburgh movie from the 1970s, it’s been almost as interesting to watch Simmons get pushed to his limits. Seeing him sob over his father’s grave in Israel, begging forgiveness and telling the headstone, “I am a good father; I am a good father,” it’s hard to believe the taciturn Simmons is hamming it up for the cameras.
And this year, he’s hardly been able to present the cool dad/rocker image he’s had in previous seasons. Sure, he's shed a tear here and there over his Holocaust-survivor mom and the American military, but we've never seen him look, well, truly, deeply vulnerable. Watching wide eyed as Tweed ran hot and cold, Simmons has seemed out of his depth. In his world view, he’s never lied to Tweed, he’s provided for his family and thus he’s been the very definition of a good, if not spouse, boyfriend and father. That Tweed, Nick and Sophie expect more from him seems to utterly baffle him. And yet, he’s taken baby steps. He goes to therapy and some of it actually seems to stick. Both Dr. Wexler and Tweed regularly call him on his bull, something I’m pretty sure Simmons doesn’t get a lot of in the rest of his life.
When it finally dawns on Simmons that his “my way or the highway” approach to relationships is going to end with Tweed actually hitting said highway, we see him scurrying desperately to make amends. I really can’t recall Simmons being humbled this way in public before, and you almost want to look away – looking all of his 61 years, Simmons isn’t that guy with the samurai hair and blood dripping out of his mouth. He’s just a guy, as clueless as any other.
Still, I’m not sure this happy ending, if it is a happy ending, will stick. Hey, I hope they live happily ever after. That was their shared wish at the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, each of them tucking their mirrored hopes into the wall. They are, in their way, a cute couple. But I have to wonder if, after two decades spent on tenterhooks, if Tweed, once she can finally take a breath, a hard won ring on her finger, might wonder if it's enough.