This is the hardest column I’ve ever had to write.
On Oct. 28 Matthew Langford Perry, the actor known prominently for playing Chandler Bing on the 90s sitcom “Friends”, died. In my 20 years of life on this earth, no celebrity death has hit me quite as hard as his, and I’ve been struggling to figure out how to cope with it.
Obviously, as a journalist, my knee-jerk reaction was to write about Matthew Perry’s life and his struggle with addiction. I got pretty far into that first draft too – over 1,000 words to be exact. Believe me, writing that draft wasn’t easy, and scrapping it entirely was even harder, but I decided against it because Matthew Perry’s life story has already been well documented, not just by other journalists, but by Perry himself in his memoir “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing”. If I were to wax poetic about Perry’’s life, it would be a waste of ink.
Instead, I’ve decided to take a different approach. I’m instead going to write about my experience with “Friends”, from the first times I watched it to now, and specifically what the character of Chandler and the life of Matthew Perry meant to me.
When I was born, “Friends” was on its ninth and penultimate season, so sadly I wasn’t among the millions of people who saw the show when it first aired, and yet, strangely enough, I didn’t really have to be. Despite being a very 90’s show, “Friends” has a sort of timelessness about it that’s almost uncanny. It feels like a show that’s always existed, and a show that could’ve existed at any point in time. Personally, I can’t quite remember the first time I watched “Friends”, mainly because my parents are massive fans of the show, and basically since the day I was born it was always playing on the TV one way or another, from the last to seasons that aired after I was born, to the complete DVD collection, to the brief moment in time it was on Netflix.
“Friends” was a show I was basically conditioned to love from birth, but as I grew up, Chandler was the character I latched on to the most. To this day, I relate to his almost neurotic need to make everyone around him laugh at all times, his awkwardness with the opposite sex, and his fear of being alone. His trademark blend of genuine charm and adorkable awkwardness were traits of his that I try every day to emulate in my own life, and learning that most of these traits came from Matthew Perry himself made me connect to him even more.
Learning about Matthew Perry’s death hurts more to me than I can ever put into words. The man whose personality I modeled my own after is gone, and trying to grapple with that has been difficult. There’s something to be said about the toxic nature of parasocial relationships with celebrities here, but that’s a conversation for another day. For now, I’ll be doing everything that I can to remember the life of one of my all time favorite actors Mathew Perry. Could I be any more sad?
Mason Poepperling is a Buhler sophomore studying journalism.