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The One in Which Chandler Bows Out

Remembering Matthew Perry
Published 02 Nov, 2023 12:05pm

I don’t remember when or how I started watching Friends. It probably just waded into my life, exactly like the characters from the show wade into each other’s apartments… In a perfunctory way, to spark off a story and lift your day. What I do remember is that I ‘got into’ it during my college years, and also that it quickly became a cornerstone of my budding university friendships. Kind of like the show, there was that one friend who had the apartment where we could gather to watch and laugh together (and create some Friends“ moments of our own). Then there was the other friend who had all the DVDs.

Sometimes watching together intently was important. Sometimes real life became more important… usually while Friends played in the background. We all recognised the show’s characters among us. We had a Phoebe, a Ross, a Joey, a Rachel, a Monica, and even a Gunther. There were, however not one, but two Chandlers.

Ironically it was one of the ‘Chandler’ friends who first shared the news of Matthew Perry’s passing on the WhatsApp group where most of our interactions take place these days. And suddenly the day seemed to dim. As if a piece of our college memories had faded. When in true WhatsApp tradition I forwarded the news on the family group chat, my daughter, who was only a year old when Friends aired its final episode, spontaneously broke into tears. It struck me then how the reach of this iconic show transcended generations. It also struck me that the show had been watched, re-watched, memorised and played in the background throughout my life, college, marriage, children, grief, and happiness…

The loss of Matthew Perry reminds us of the enduring influence of great actors, and the ability of art to connect people across time and distance.

And so, of course, the loss of Matthew Perry is the loss of a friend. Here I was in Karachi, over 13,000 kilometres away from LA where he died, never having met him in person, yet deflated by his sudden passing. His portrayal of Chandler had appealed to the wicked in me and brought on the laughter. I am not sure about who my favourite character was – why do we need favourites anyway? – but I always waited to hear Chandler’s mocking take on situations. His comic timing and smarty-pant sarcastic one-liners were the heart of the beloved sitcom.

Each character contributed their unique quirks and humour to the show’s dynamic. However, while other ‘Friends’ stumbled into funny circumstances, Chandler usually walked in ready with a sardonic comment that never failed to elicit laughter. It was effortless. I always felt he was the real comedian in the group. And his wit and acerbic barbs remain a timeless source of joy for Friends fans around the world. My most cherished bits of Friends have to be the bromance between Chandler and Joey. The jibes and the chemistry, made it one of the best bromances in television history.

The loss of Matthew Perry reminds us of the enduring influence of great actors, and the ability of art to connect people across time and distance. His legacy lives on in the countless laughs and cherished memories he gifted us. Rest in peace, Matthew. You did not know us, but your work reached us in ways that cannot be fully expressed.

Photo: Shutterstock: s_bukley