|Title||Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing|
Despite being a huge star, Matthew Perry has had a hard life. His wealth and position allowed him the resources to feed his addictions to the point of near death. Through the book we discover that minus the harrowing addictions, the Chandler Bing character was the spitting image of Matthew Perry. Chandler going through the addictions Perry did would not have made good comedy.
This was my first read of a celebrity memoir. Why start with this one? Toward the end of the COVID pandemic I binged watched the entire series of Friends over a few weeks so it had been in my mind. So, when I heard that Matthew Perry was publishing a memoir I figured “what the heck; I might as well try it”. I’m glad I listened to it as an audio book rather than reading it. Listening doesn’t require the full concentration that reading does and hearing Perry narrate was a big asset.
The book follows Matthew Perry’s life from childhood, through the huge hit TV Show Friends, and up to the present. In case you haven’t heard, Matthew Perry is a (as of the writing/narrating of the story) recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He almost died from his drug use and he provides a gut-and-heart-wrenching portrayal of the terrible times he had.
Unsurprisingly, he hurt a number of people along the way. Although Perry tries to take responsibility for his actions some blame (it seems to me) leaks out toward his parents and others. As a surprise to absolutely no one, if you are a big star, a LOT of people will enable you and let you get away with a lot as long as you show up and do your job. Only a couple of people had his best interest at heart. Think Judy Garland.
When he was bingeing alcohol he would bloat up; when on drugs he’d be skinny. He lets us know we can see this change play out over the seasons. In the cliff-hanger episode at the end of the season where Chandler hooks up with Monica while in London for Ross’ wedding, Perry is bloated. Then when the next season picks up in London again Perry was off alcohol and the wardrobe team had to work hard to get him to look similar to the Chandler of 4 months before.
I came away with a lot of compassion for Mr. Perry. He does an excellent job showing the toll of addiction. I’m routing for him