Thanks to “The Osbournes” and later A&E’s “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” the idea that rock stars have families just like the rest of us — albeit with a few unique wrinkles — is hardly a novel one. So seeing Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider dispense metal-family values proves another exercise in the painfully mundane, carefully scripted to create moments of comedy and warmth. Mostly, “Growing Up Twisted” is little more than a form of estate planning by Snider on behalf of his four semitalented, fully annoying kids.
Snider and his wife, Suzette, have been married for 34 years, an anniversary they commemorate in the first of two half-hour episodes airing back-to-back to launch the program. The producers have crafted a “Gift of the Magi”-like plot to mark the occasion (albeit for people who likely have never read O. Henry), with Dee getting his tattoo redone as a sign of his enduring love, even as Suzette has hers removed.
Can she make it up to him? Here’s a hint: Is someone currently singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in a karaoke bar somewhere?
As for the kids, 27-year-old Jesse is a singer himself and new father; Shane (22) yearns to do standup comedy; hotheaded doofus Cody (20) wants to be a filmmaker (good luck with that, kid); and 13-year-old Cheyenne has to sit around while the boys joke about their parents still having sex.
Like a lot of family-based reality, “Twisted” is overproduced to prevent the boredom of kitchen table scenes, though there are still plenty of those. In the second chapter, for example, there’s frantic preparation for christening Jesse’s daughter, while Shane performs standup in a local club.
Depending on one’s point of view, the Snider kids are irreverent scamps or just another group of TV’s lucky-sperm-club members, siphoning a taste of fame from their ponytailed pop. Either way, they’re the least distinguished element in a series defined by its portrait of Snider’s loyalty to and ardor for his wife.
Indeed, the principal connection among most programs about outwardly exotic celebrity families is how utterly old-fashioned they are. Despite the obvious temptations associated with musical stardom, TV’s rock gods invariably go home and have sex with their spouses.
Heartwarming, perhaps, in a sitcom-y kind of way, but not very twisted at all — or, for that matter, very interesting.