By: Gigi Alaish
I first knew him as Chandler Bing.
Growing up, I was eager to watch Friends every chance I got. Although all ten seasons of Friends aired before I was even born, it seems as though Friends is one of those shows that was never affected by generational gaps. I can watch Friends with my hometown friends, my college friends, my parents, my younger brother, or I can watch alone. Even when I watch Friends alone, I don’t feel lonely. Throughout my life, Friends provided me with a great deal of comfort. No matter my mood, I could watch Friends and be overcome with feelings of happiness and comfort.
It’s not an overstatement to say Matthew Perry is one of the main reasons I watch Friends. Chandler Bing is easily my favorite character on Friends. That’s largely because Matthew Perry’s portrayal of the character is perfect. Chandler Bing is everyone’s sarcastic, funny, and awkward yet relatable friend. He is always cracking jokes on the show and constantly making his friends laugh. Watching him on TV, I can laugh along as his friend. It immediately felt like he was my friend. And, many other Friends watchers feel the same.
Last November, Matthew Perry’s memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” came out. We learned about his off-camera support system, his time on Friends, and his relationships. Most prominently, we learned about his struggles with addiction. With this memoir, we were let into the mind of Matthew Perry. We became emotionally involved. It was hard to read about his intense struggles with drugs and alcohol during the time he was on the show. It was hard to comprehend that Matthew Perry could be in such a dark place when his character was making us laugh so much. Of course, an actor is not his character, but Matthew Perry had done such an outstanding performance with Chandler Bing that we see the two connected.
People became invested in Matthew Perry’s story after the release of his book. While he discusses his own story battling addiction, he highlights his focused efforts of aiding others who struggle with addiction: “I was here to help people get and stay sober.” He explains how he wants to be remembered for his efforts in helping people, not just his role as Chandler Bing.
Now that he was letting us into his deepest thoughts through his memoir, he became a part of us. Not just a friend.
A few weeks ago, on October 28th, the world was shocked. Headline: Matthew Perry, ‘Friends’ star, dead at 54. I was in the living room of my apartment when I heard the sudden news. I sat with my roommates, our hands covering our mouths in shock. We sat in silence for a few minutes trying to process the news. Every day, for the past month leading up to his death, we had watched Matthew Perry light up the screen in Friends. He was part of our routine.
Then our eyes started to tear up.
Wiping tears from my eyes, I went to bed that night reading every possible article I could find about his death, trying to make sense of what had happened. I went on every social media platform to see how everyone else was coping with his sudden passing.
Many times in his memoirs and interviews, Matthew Perry had expressed his feelings of loneliness in life. A year ago, in an interview with People Magazine, Perry says how he always wanted to find lasting love and start a family. In Friends, Chandler Bing has a wife and kids, and while Matthew Perry seemed to long for the life that his character was blessed with, it was evident that on the day of his death, the world was with him. While he may have been feeling lonely at times in his private life, he never made us feel lonely through his work.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Matthew Perry’s legacy serves as a reminder to be thankful for the ones you love. Whether that be your friends or family, this is a reminder to cherish them. If you’re given the chance to help someone, no matter how little the task, take this as a sign to help. If your friend is sad, make them laugh. For me, maybe that means doing that Turkey Trot with my mom like she wants. But hey, Thanksgiving break is almost here! Could I BE any more excited?