Since his death last month, tributes have flooded the internet in memory of Matthew Perry, who played the beloved Chandler Bing (or Chanandler Bong) on the iconic sitcom: Friends. Best known for his sensational delivery, quick-wit, and sarcasm, his ten-year portrayal as Chandler proved a fan favourite, and marked a momentous achievement in television history. As the Friends cast, colleagues, and close companions of Matthew pay their tributes, here is mine.
In Chandler’s character, I see large resemblances with myself. Resorting to the art of sarcasm for humour, Chandler proves it is most certainly not the lowest form of wit. Albeit his iconic one-liners and satirical remarks help to understand sarcasm effectively – there is a blindingly obvious reason why he was distributed the greatest number of jokes on the show. While his humour developed as a coping mechanism from his emotionally turbulent childhood, Chandler’s ability to spin childhood trauma into laughter perfectly summarises his character’s unique charm. This is encapsulated in his series three exchange with Rachel, claiming “I’m not great at the advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?”. All the credit for the hilarious and awkward ‘transponster’ (I’m not sure we will ever comprehend Chandler’s true occupation) should be attributed to Matthew’s outstanding characterisation, having moulded the funniest ‘friend’.
However, Chandler also proves to be an extremely multifaceted character, and Friends perfectly depicts a coming-of-age story of a man in the Big Apple. In “The one with all the Thanksgivings”, his traumatic childhood is revealed, being that his parents divorced when he was only nine years old, with his father later performing in Las Vegas, as the drag queen ‘Helena Handbasket’. However, upon briefly visiting her before his wedding, Chandler has undergone a considerate character development.
Initially, he epitomised the fear of commitment, was mocked for his lack of womanising, and grappled unto loose strings with his reoccurring romance with Janice. Yet, despite these series three frustrations, he has significantly changed by series five. Chandler and Monica’s relationship blossoms into the heart and soul of Friends. Although their London romance was never intended as a gravitational shift in the series – it was more so a playful plotline – their relationship establishes a new consensus for Chandler. Not only does he overcome his insecurities regarding rejection and commitment, but in the latter half of the sitcom he matures as a person. Chandler manages to maintain his strong relationship with Monica, despite the turbulence of work-life, having briefly moved to Tulsa, and the couple’s tiresome adoption journey. He illustrates an individual who makes sacrifices for those he loves, as is so obvious in his sweet series six exchange with Monica, remarking “they say that you’re high maintenance, but it’s okay, because I like… maintaining you”.
Ultimately, Chandler is a realistic individual, and one I personally view a ‘friend’. Matthew’s death felt like a tragic, personal loss, only further perpetuated by the heart-breaking tributes from his fellow co-stars. As I write, I remember how inviting his character was, and attribute this to the fact Matthew was able to fuse his own personality with Chandler’s. The Chandler presented to us on-screen was a mere reflection of Matthew himself. Thus, it is no surprise how upsetting his untimely death proves to be.
Friends has been a constant for the entirety of my life. Having grown and matured myself, Friends too has alongside me; what was once viewed by my younger self as an entertaining storyline, or quirky characteristic, now instead resonates with me as something both tangible and relatable. The show flawlessly depicts the true depths and reality of adult life. Whilst Matthew’s death renders him gone, his legacy will reign for the testament of time.
Image: Ilse Orsel via Unsplash