When it comes to a person’s favorite character in a television series, the deciding factor is often relatability. People usually like a character that they feel that they can connect to and possibly be friends with. When it comes to “Friends”, that role usually belongs to Chandler Bing. As he once described himself, he is “hopeless and awkward and desperate for love”. That is an attitude that caused many young adults to have a spiritual connection with Chandler. Of course, while the writing for him was top-notch, the character would be nothing without its actor. He could not have been played by anyone besides Matthew Perry. Perry brought life into the role and made him full of energy and humor. It has been said that Perry even helped write some of Chandler’s jokes, demonstrating how he fully knew the character’s comedic voice. Chandler without Perry is just a bunch of clever jokes on a piece of paper. Unfortunately, nothing great can last forever. On October 28, Perry was found dead in his hot tub at the age of 54. As of writing, an official cause of death has not been announced. As soon as his death was revealed, the mourning of fans and colleagues came in droves. Perry touched so many lives through his comedy and his impact was made especially clear after his untimely death. However, the joy of Chandler was still clear even when Perry was alive. Perry’s inner demons and struggles were no secret, especially after the release of his recent memoir. It goes to show that underneath the appearance of great comedy and happiness, there can be tragedy not far behind.
Chandler could be seen as the everyman of the series. That is because he was not too specific and was pleasing to the general public. The other “Friends” characters were more defined in their quirks. Phoebe was the eccentric hippie, Joey was the dumb ladies man, Monica was the neurotic mom of the group, Ross was the whiny nerd and Rachel was a ditzy former rich girl. Chandler, on the other hand, is of average intelligence, nondescript job, no particular quirks and is a decently nice man. We could see the show through his eyes. However, despite that nondescriptness, Chandler did have a main trait. He starts the series being known as a guy who knows nothing about the world of women. He sees himself as someone who will never get the girl and clams up whenever a pretty girl talks to him. Of course, since this is a television series, it is hard to believe that Chandler could not get a girl since Perry was really handsome in this series, especially in the early seasons. His soft hair and charismatic grin made him a magnet for young girls watching television everywhere. Eventually, Chandler gets the girl when he marries his best friend Monica. That introduces the audience to a new side of Chandler that is also connectable: his soft side. People could see that Chandler was a supportive husband when the time called for it and he was happy to help out when necessary. It took the support of his wife for these traits to shine through. Watching the evolution of Chandler over 10 seasons was beautiful and some people might have evolved with him. Many people probably went from the forever-alone guy to the caring husband. At least, Chandler showed that that is possible.
Chandler Bing is a character that people would often say when you ask “Who’s your favorite “Friends” character?” One of the reasons could be the connection mentioned above, but it could also be his humor. Since “Friends” was a sitcom, jokes were to be expected. However, Chandler was the resident funny guy of the show. He was the one fastest on the draw when it came to quips and he was always ready to lighten up a situation with a joke. Furthermore, Chandler knew this was his role. He recognized that comedy is his superpower and he was proud of that fact. “I’m not good at the advice, can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?” he once said (this quote was also my Instagram bio for many years). You could not ask any question around this man without him having an answer. “Guess what?” “The fifth dentist caved and now they’re all recommending Trident?” “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” “Sidney Poitier?” “Why aren’t you dressed yet? “Am I naked again?” He even had sarcastic responses in his head when he asks himself “What’s wrong with me?” “Oooh, don’t open that door.” The list of quotable lines goes on and on. Practically everything out of Chandler’s mouth was quotable. If “Friends” existed during the peak of Twitter (X), Chandler would have gone viral several times. A lot of people nowadays say that background laughter in multi-camera sitcoms can get annoying, but when it comes to “Friends,” and especially Chandler, those laughs are not without reason.
Of course, we have to thank the hilarious writing for Chandler’s character, but it was Perry’s delivery that made these jokes so hilarious. He always knew the importance of each joke. However, it was not so comedic for Perry behind the scenes. Throughout the show’s run, Perry dealt with a variety of drug and alcohol problems that took over his life. It is almost evidenced through the way Perry looked across the series. For example, his weight and energy would fluctuate throughout the run, with him looking really different between a season finale and a season premiere. There was even a whole plot later on where Chandler moved to Tulsa so that Perry could deal with his drug issues in rehab. One could say that this is what happens when Hollywood fame gets to a person, but Perry has dealt with addiction since he was a teenager. Nevertheless, he would always put a smile on his face and was always ready to make people laugh. To be clear, there were no drugs found on the scene when Perry died, but his weakening health is almost certainly from his years of drug use. Perry was trying to get better for himself and the fans, but that is not always enough.
Even though Perry has not done many big projects since his time on “Friends,” Perry was back in the news recently for his new memoir. Entitled “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” this book was Perry’s candid look at all of the highs and lows in his life. He talks about the connections he made on “Friends,” but also the times when he could not get away from drugs when America was expecting him to be the smiley and goofy guy. He hurt people along the way but he also helped people. Everyone knows Perry as Chandler, which is understandable. This memoir wanted to explain who the man was behind Chandler. There were many mixed opinions on Perry as a person after people read this book, but everyone could see that this was a very raw look at the actor’s life. The book came out on November 1, 2022, less than a year before his death. Therefore, the stories in this memoir showed what Perry was basically like until the end. That is what is making his death hit people a bit more. They just got a look inside Perry’s inner world, his hopes and his fears for life, and now that world has disappeared. We saw him a bit more before the end than we had in the ten or so years prior. His fight to get better has ended and the man behind the humor has told his last stories and his last jokes.
Chandler Bing has become one of the most iconic roles in sitcom history, possibly in television history. He was a guy that men wanted to be and women wanted to date, but not in the super-cool tough guy way. He fit that role because he was a normal guy but with elevated charm, humor and looks. Personally, I always liked Chandler because I felt we would get along. I have seen every episode of “Friends” multiple times and I always smile when Chandler appears on screen. He is a timeless character that just wants to have fun and support his friends. He is a character that always calms me. Even though I don’t know Perry personally, his death feels like the death of a friend. Hearing about his struggles made me wish that he could have powered through for a long and happy life. He was the youngest of the main six of “Friends” so you don’t expect him to go first. However, the dangers to health became too much. At least Perry knew before his death how much he and Chandler meant to so many people. He knows that he brought the world a lot of laughs. To look at the positive side of the situation, Perry may no longer be with us, but as long as we have a way to watch television, Chandler Bing will live on.