There really are no words to describe the immense impact that Matthew Perry had on millions upon millions of people around the world. From television shows like “The Odd Couple” and movies like “The Whole Nine Yards” and one of my personal favorites “Fools Rush In”, his resume is impressive. The TV show “Friends’ alone remains one of the most watched and celebrated sitcoms in television history. It has aired in over 60 countries around the world. The six-cast ensemble, all of whom were little known at the start of the show’s 10 year run, are now household names. If not their real name, their character’s name will always be known. Each of these 6 characters played a part in my childhood and to this day, “Friends” is still on at my house any time I see it streaming on our TV guide. 

What does Matthew Perry mean to me? That is also very hard to describe…

Had to be early 1995. Maybe January or February. I was 9 years old. My mom watched the Thursday night NBC TV line up, but I wasn’t allowed to join her. It was not quite age appropriate and on a school night, it was dangerously close to my bed time.

So, naturally, I found a way to watch it.

The addition of a TV equipped with cable in my private bedroom was not the best move when it came to censorship. At that time, I was heavy into typical teen shows like Boy Meets World, Saved By The Bell, and Full House.

But “Friends” was something different. 

To this day, almost 20 years after the show ended, and 30 years after it began, we still quote Chandler and his Friends practically daily in my friend circles. Could I BE any more nostalgic about the show? I literally just sent one of my best friends a sign for her new place a couple months ago with one of the best Chandler quotes “I’m not great at the advice, can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?” which is now proudly hung in her kitchen.

I remember as a young child, wanting to understand the show, the comedy, the story lines, but being wildly lost. I was way too young for half the jokes, but it felt cool to be “in” on these jokes I didn’t understand. 

Early on, especially as a young kid, I didn’t appreciate the comedic genius that was Chandler Bing’s character. I was much more invested in the Rachel profile, because I understood her story. 

But even then, I could see and appreciate the humor that Matthew Perry brought to the character, and what he added to the show. 

As I began to get more invested in the show, better understanding the context and situations they presented and becoming a little more savvy about the adult-based humor, Chandler became one of my favorite characters. His line delivery, his sarcasm, his awkward presence, coupled with his genuine care and concern for those he loved on the show just made the character. 

I recently had a chance to visit one of the “Friends Experience” pop up exhibits with my best friend. Naturally, we had to do the Joey/Chandler recliner scene. Sitting in that iconic living room, where I watched Chandler grow from awkward, uncomfortable, and brash to lovingly awkward, still uncomfortable, and now, sensitive was such a huge moment for me. Of the many traits he had, his ability to make even a “weird” character “cool” was a breath of fresh air for many of us, especially outcasts like myself. He gave me hope. He gave me pride. He gave me something to look forward to.

One of the best parts of Friends, for me, was watching the devleopment of the relationhips. My friendships are of the utmost importance in my life and seeing other strong bonds is inspirational. Chandler and Joey are, to this day, one of the best duos on television. The way they played off one another was incredibly entertaining and some of the very best moments of the show belong to this duo. From season one, chasing a bus across town to find Ross’ son Ben who they left on it, to losing their furniture and learning to love their canoe, to “Pat the dog” and their grand entrance into their short lived bigger apartment, all the way to the “Joey” room in Chandler and Monica’s new suburban house, they had some heartwarming and comedic times together.  And Matthew Perry’s portrayal of the best friend, always a support, always a comedic button, was incredible.

 Of course, the Monica and Chandler relationship has to be called out, especially how it bloomed from best friends to lovers to partners. One of the very best scenes in the entire show is Joey, Chandler, and Monica’s recap of when Monica was stung by a jellyfish. Each of them chiming in, slowly walking into the scene, giving their recount of what happened on the beach that day. The dymanic between them was nothing short of perfection. This scene shows the group’s loyalty to one another, and almost foreshadows the relationship that Monica and Chandler later have. Chandler’s movement from the screw-up who can’t keep a relationship with anyone but Janice going all the way to devoted husband and father was another character shift that was heartwarming to watch. Watching Chandler discipline the Chick and the Duck and then later, seeing the desire he had to be a father to a child was a beautiful arc for his character. 

And who will ever forget the 2-part episode that led the Chandler and Monica’s engagement. One of my all time favorite scences, which came before these episodes, was when Phoebe reveals to the audience that Chandler has decided to ask Monica to marry him. Following a well-acted panic episode that Chandler has after hearing a phone message from a wedding event coordinator, just for show, Phoebe comes out of hiding once Monica leaves, excited and thrilled to talk to Chandler about his plan. And later, Phoebe and Chandler’s quest to get the perfect ring which takes them from a jewelry store to a restaurant where they fake being a couple with a dying wish. And then the return of Tom Selleck, while Chandler continues to deceive her, maintaining the charade that he does not want to get married, leading Monica to question what she wants. But then actual proposal, full of emotion, truly looked real in the moment. The tears, the difficulty getting their words out, the way they played off one another, was true beauty. These scenes between the two of them are couple goals. Chandler is 1000% in Monica’s corner. The way Matthew Perry shows that is something to behold. 

Perhaps my very favorite thing about Chandler was the way he could diffuse situations that would normally feel difficult with a single line. “Hi, I’m Chandler. I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable.” This has never been my specialty, so I always really admired this quality in him. Even as the show came to an end, after 10 years, Chandler got that last line, agreeing to get coffee with the crew before asking “Where?” After the Central Perk coffeeshop was the meetup place for this crew for 10 years, that one word brought the laughter to an incredibly sad time, and it held so much meaning.

I have very few “Friends” claims to fame. I had a chance to visit the soundstage where Friends was filmed once, years ago, while at the Warner Bros. lot, but another show was filming there at the time, and of course, it had been a few years since “Friends” had filmed there anyway. But I still recall, standing outside in front of the Friends plaque and feeling almost out of body. Years and years after the show wrapped, none of the cast or crew to be seen, but the feeling that I was standing in a place where magic had happened was evident. Matthew Perry was always at the very center of that magic. The diversity in his character and the way he portrayed the many layers that made up Chandler Bing will always be nothing short of genius. 

Losing anyone that we know and love is hard. This one cut pretty deep. 

Matty, you are an international treasure. You will always be remembered for your iconic character’s sarcasm and genuine love and care for his Friends. We lost a true Friend, and you will never be forgotten.