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Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry, a story of ‘what hell on earth feels like’

If there is anything that can uplift my mood no matter what I am going through, it’s FRIENDS. I remember I started watching FRIENDS in the initial months of 2022 and now I have watched it more than 4 times. Yes, you heard that right. And wait, there is more. I eat my lunch and dinner while watching FRIENDS. So, you can say that FRIENDS make everything yummy for me. 

But what about the life of those who have made our lives better and funnier? Well, funny definitely reminds me of Chandler Bing whose defense mechanism was humor. He was and still is one of the most loved characters from FRIENDS. And I don’t know about you but I definitely used to think that a guy as rich and famous as Matthew Perry aka Chandler Bing must be living a life that you and I cannot even imagine. Well, I was pretty right. 

Matthew Perry who played the role of Chandler Bing in FRIENDS has blessed us all with his autobiography, ‘Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing’ which is at times as funny as Chandler Bing is. If you are a complete absolute true lover of FRIENDS, you must have noticed how Chandler Bing’s physical shape changes in almost every season. In fact, in season 6, he is as thin as a matchstick. The question is Why? And the answer is Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry. 

Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

Often we think that those who are famous and rich, those who seem to figure it all out are the ones living a luxurious, tension-free, and happy life. We often feel jealous of such people, don’t we? We think these people belong to the other side of the world where they have money that could buy all the comfort, and popularity that sets them apart (people don’t chase God these days but they do chase celebrities). Anyone would die to have it all. 

And our beloved Chandler Bing was dying in almost every stage of his life even when he had it all. How and Why? Well, let me give you a little tour of the journey of Matthew Perry. 

Matthew Perry was abandoned by his father when he was 3 and started living with his mother and grandparents until 15. Aged 15, Perry decides to join his father, John in California. He had been routinely visiting John from the age of 5, always traveling alone as an “unaccompanied minor” It was the tag of an unaccompanied minor that watered the seed of abandonment inside the little heart of Matthew Perry.

  • First, his father abandoned him, 
  • Then his mother couldn’t make time for him at home as she was the sole earner of the family. And to gain his mother’s attention, Matthew found humor as a way out. He thought if he could make his mother laugh after a tight heavy day, she would finally notice him. That’s where Chandler Bing was born.
  • When Matthew was around 15, his mother married another man which made him feel abandoned yet again. Another man in the life of his mother made him feel jealous as if someone will steal the love that was his. 
  • Matthew felt like an outsider in his own house because a new family was building up and he thought he wasn’t really a part of it. He didn’t fit in there. So he decided to stay with his father in California at age 15.

Matthew’s shattered family broke pieces of his little heart when he was just a child. And since then, he started thinking that:

He is born to be abandoned. Anyone he loves will leave him which is why even after being with dozens of women in his life, Matthew is alone at age 53. He dated legendary women like Julia Roberts but broke up with all of them because he thought ‘what if she broke up with him first? He will again feel abandoned so he ended every relationship with every women before it could lead to a sweet family’

Rang any bell in your ears? He is just like Chandler. 

Matthew have been with a lot of women in his life. Really, a lot. While reading Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing, I felt ‘Oh God, this will be the women of his life but duh!’

He wanted attention from women because he didn’t get that attention from his mother. 

Part 2:

Matthew Perry played a lot of small roles in a bunch of movies before he got FRIENDS. And to give you a little spoiler, Matthew’s best friend was hired to play the role of Chandler at first but he backed off and Matthew got the part.

Matthew actually worked his ass off to get the role of Chandler. He says in Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing that just after reading the script, he knew FRIENDS is going to be a big sensation. 

However the main reason Matthew was desperate to the get the role was, He believed he was Chandler. Mind me, He wasn’t perfect for the character of Chandler but Matthew was Chandler in real life too.

  • He had broken family with divorced parents.
  • He used humor as a defense mechanism
  • He was desperate for love in his real life but always pushed women away, and
  • He had his insecurities and doubts about himself

In fact, Matthew even shares that some of character traits of Chandler Bing were actually inspired from his real life like his desperation to find love yet pushing people away. 

This part of Matthew Perry’s life was a blessing. Heaven on earth. He found a perfect character that he was dedicated and devoted to play. But here comes the twist.

Matthew was a drug addicted since forever. At around 16, he used to drink as if he is born for it. And then the addiction never stopped. Matthew was taking 55 pills a day to feel good. He even shot many episodes while he was on drugs. 

He met death not once but many times. He almost touched death yet somehow fought back to life. Matthew spent at least $9000000 trying to get sober and went to rehab centers more than 15 times and undergone 14 surgeries. His latest surgery led him to coma for 14 long days. He didn’t ‘how to stop’. He was never sober in his entire life.

He had everything. He had (and still has) money and popularity. He had the best show of the world. He was loved and respected. But somehow nothing filled the void that was building inside. A giant black whole that was consuming him every single day when he was making us laugh. A void that he thought can only be filled through drugs and addiction. Pain that he was trying to ease through 55 pills in a day. 

He said that he used to think, if he becomes popular, he will feel complete. He begged to god ‘God, you can do anything, Please make me famous’ and God did his work. God made him famous. So famous that even after more than 2 decades of FRIENDS, people still love Chandler. But the void is still there. To which Matthew says,

“I think you actually have to have all of your dreams come true to realize they are the wrong dreams.”

-Matthew Perry in Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing

And after reading the book, I realized that behind-the-scenes are not pretty. What goes inside a person is only known to him. We can all pass judgments on Matthew’s life but I guess the last worst thing we can do is to give some kind of cliche advice on what he should have done. 

Sometimes people around you are suffering through hell but you wouldn’t even notice because they hide their pain behind humor and pretty smiles. Depression or pain is not just about ugly cries. It’s something deep inside our hearts that even the one who is suffering doesn’t understand. That’s exactly what Matthew was suffering from, I guess.

What I Felt While Reading ‘Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing’ by Matthew Perry:

Although while reading the book, I didn’t like the language and particular words used for doctors, God and women. And I was angry at Matthew for saying it but then I guess, Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry is a completely honest, raw and unfiltered book. If Matthew wanted, he could have made things sound perfect so he could garnish sympathy but he made things unfiltered so you, as a reader, can feel whatever you want to. I was angry like hell when Matthew said ‘God can go and fuck himself’ I just wanted to close the book. But then again, it’s an unfiltered book that shows what people say and feel when they are angry. 

Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

I would say you should read the book to realize what childhood trauma can do to a person. How drugs and addiction can take everything away from you. Everything. Matthew had everything, fam, money and love but he couldn’t enjoy any of it. All he did his entire life was to beg for life from God. To save him from the physical and emotional pain. A must read for all the FRIENDS lovers and the lovers of life. 

Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry, an unfiltered, brutally honest and completely raw biography. A story of how fame and loneliness can go hand in hand. 

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