"Growing Up Twisted:" take it ... or leave it

Courtesy A&E.com

For every awesome reality show (Real Housewives of New Jersey), there are dozens that feel forced and pointless (keeping it within Bravo, the Housewives network, anyone else seen that Work of Art show? Can you explain the point, or the appeal?) Into the "I'm already famous" sub-genre of reality shows (as opposed to the "I'll do anything to be famous" sub-genre) tumbles Growing Up Twisted, a new seven-part series that debuted this week on A&E. It's unclear if we have the success of Gene Simmons Family Jewels (also an A&E production) to thank for this, or if this is some kind of attempt to reclaim the glory that once was MTV's The Osbournes. If it's the latter, the world needs to realize that there's only one Ozzy (and only one Sharon, for that matter), and there will never be another Osbournes.

That said, Dee Snider — fright-wigged leader of Twisted Sister and enemy-for-life of Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center — was entertaining in the 80s, and appears to have aged with far less slurring side effects than Osbournes-era Ozzy. If there's no discernable reason we should be watching his brood stomp around their Long Island mansion, at least there are some genuinely funny moments along the way. Filling the Sharon role is Dee's wife Suzette; they met when she was 15 and he was 21, and have been together ever since (one of the first episodes highlights their 34th anniversary). A busty blonde who considers a skin-tight leopard-print dress to be a "conservative" look, the boisterous Suzette wears the pants in the marriage — I could see her fitting into a Real Housewives scenario, no problem. She's be the one who gets into fistfights and doesn't apologize.

Other Sniders include aspiring rocker Jesse (his ability to rock remains unconfirmed as of episode two, for all we see him croon is a sappy ballad to his infant daughter; in addition, he wears his hair in a most unfortunate mohawk, with designs shaved into the sides of his head); stand-up comedian Shane (initially, I thought he was the most normal of the crew, until I realized he was periodically wearing a cape around the house); Cody (described as "a filmmaker," he's probably more accurately tagged "a shit-starter); and baby of the family Cheyenne (a Hot Topic-clad young teen who throws a toddler-style tantrum when her beloved trampoline is removed from the family's backyard).

So, to quickly recap: the kids are named Jesse, Shane, Cody, and Cheyenne. Wild West theme much?

Anyway, A&E aired the first two 30-minute episodes back-to-back on Tues/27; according to A&E's website, they'll repeat before the new eps air Tues/3. The first episode, "Baptism By Snider," follows the frantic efforts of the family to put together a backyard christening for Jesse's baby (hence, the need to move Cheyenne's trampoline: "It meeeeeans something to me!" she wails in protest, taking a stand like only a 13-year-old kid who's been showered with expensive toys all her life can). There's also a side bit about Jesse's music career (he's written a song about how he won't leave his daughter at home while he goes on tour, like Dee did to him — burn), and a family outing to a comedy club to see Shane perform (do I need to tell you he includes a "We're Not Gonna Take It" joke?)

Episode two, "Carpet and Drapes," goes for a slightly raunchier theme; there's no baby business in this one. Instead, it's Dee and Suzette's anniversary. Tender tributes to their love include Suzette's decision to shave her pubic hair into a heart shape and dye it hot pink (Shane and Cody are either overly offended by this notion, or a little too excited by it; you be the judge). In a scene that's as close as Growing Up Twisted will ever come to O. Henry, Dee takes Suzette out for a romantic dinner to reveal he's touched up the fading "Suzette" tattoo on his arm — only to discover that she's just had her "Dee" tattoo lasered off. This is played for high drama; Dee's deep Wound of Body Art Betrayal is healed only when Suzette decides she'll get a big new tattoo where only he can see it (even though she admits that her wardrobe doesn't leave many places the sun don't shine).

What's ahead for this kooky, ooky family? Episode three involves Shane shooting a video for his improv class (and with his brothers, taking revenge on a store clerk who insults his mother's deliberately cultivated MILF aesthetic); Episode 4 focuses on Suzette's empty nest syndrome (should they adopt another kid? Especially when Child Protective Services is paying calls regarding other matters?) Hmm. The theme song for Growing Up Twisted insists "Once you get a taste, you're forever addicted!" Dunno. Perhaps they can loan out that ditty to the Housewives.

Check out the first two episodes of Growing Up Twisted on A&E.com. And, just for fun: Twisted Sister's video for "I Wanna Rock." Classic.

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