If you haven’t heard yet, Friends is having a reunion. There was a promo released recently that has people all fired up. Well, I’ll just let you watch for yourself first and then I’ll put in my two cents. This was released by People.
Things start off well, but then we get to the portion of the story where Matthew Perry (Who plays Chandler on the show) begins to talk about a clock he “stole” from set to give to Visa Kudrow (Who plays Pheobe on the show). It starts at around 5:23. His words appear to sort of slurr together as he talks about taking this clock because Lisa Kudrow thought it was a real clock. His face is almost emotionless as he recalls this rather funny moment. The other two cast members sit, hands folded uncomfortably in their chairs. In fact, all three of them have the same body language throughout the segment. Hands folded, elbows resting on the arms of the chair and hunched over. Its a star contrast to the female cast members for sure.
There’s another moment that begins at 2:08 where he just stares down for 12 seconds before the camera cuts away from him. Essentially many of the moments he has during this segment leave a person questioning if he’s okay. He’s not the excitable and overtly energetic Chandler Bing we remember from the show that ended some 17 years ago. He seemed sarcastic but subdued.
A Brief History….Very Brief
If you don’t know a bit about the actor’s history, Matthew Perry admitted to having a substance abuse problem. He had a couple stints in rehab and even landed himself in the hospital. Admittedly he doesn’t remember a few years of filming the show. When asked by BBC Radio 2 in 2016 about the show, he responded “I think the answer is, I don’t remember three years of it. So none of those … Somewhere between Season 3 and 6 … I was a little out of it.” Fans of the show even noticed Perry’s appearance changing from season to season as well. By 2001, the actor was consuming a quart of vodka per day and could no longer function at work. He finally got help.
After being sober from 2001 – 2011, he voluntarily checked himself into rehab again and commented on how the internet was going to make a field day out of it. A couple years later he would end up turning his beautiful malibu home into a sober living facility for men (which unfortunately closed in 2016). He remarked, “When I die, I’d like ‘Friends’ to be listed behind helping people.” (source)
Well it looks like that might be taking a backseat with the recent uproar by fans and critics thinking he’s fallen off the wagon again.
So What’s the Deal?
But my question is, why are we soooooooo concerned about Matthew Perry’s sobriety and furthermore, why is this the focal point of this beloved show returning?
Possible Answer: people love shitting on other people because it makes them feel better about their own lives. The internet seems to collectively obsess over pointing out the flaws of others. We know this, we see it daily. Perry has fallen victim to this many times and has even commented on it on numerous occasions. When you have celebrity status, people are looking for ways to make a headline out of you. If they can’t get it with good news, they’ll dig up the dirt. it’s disgusting, but that’s the way it is. We see it on the news all the time.
Another Possible answer: genuine concern about the actor’s wellbeing. He’s struggled, that’s clear. Many might worry that being back in the cast of this show is sparking old memories and relapses. This can sometimes send someone in recovery back into their old habits. As a recovering addict myself, I tend to stay away from the people, places and things that were a part of that juncture of my life. It’s too hard to go back and try to be the person I am now in those spaces. I can imagine this is not the easiest thing. Those who truly appreciate Matthew Perry for his art and who he is might genuinely be worried about him. Addiction is a beast and nobody wants to see anyone go back down that road.
Yet Another possible answer: people are just worried he’s gonna fuck up the show. Honestly, if he doesn’t even remember seasons 3 – 6 and none of us noticed, I’d say this is a stupid concern to have. He functioned pretty damn well under the pressure back then and well, he could probably do it again. I’ve seen a lot of criticism over him being older but who the fuck cares. Haven’t you seen all the over the hill rockstars out there still going on tour and performing live stage shows nightly without batting an eye. I seriously don’t know how they do it, but they are living examples that even decades of drug and alcohol abuse doesn’t stop some people from being exceptional at their craft and maybe even subhuman. Give the guy a break. We’re all older too, you know.
Could that BE anymore Judgemental?
But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how everyone is responding to this. People should show the man a little bit of grace here. He was a part of one of the notably most popular shows in television history. He created a character we all know and love (or hate, if you’re not a fan of the show). many of us are still watching and re-watching the art he created for 10 years all while fighting a battle that we only caught glimpses of.
Now, I don’t know Matthew Perry or what he’s like when he’s not on camera – so he could be a total asshole for all I know and I’m vouching for him as a human. However, I am going to stand up for humans in recovery because that shit is hard.
So with all due respect humans of the world….shut up and enjoy the show. What he’s going through – whether he’s back using or not – isn’t your concern. He’s out there trying to do his best to entertain ya’ll and perhaps we can all just show a littler more grace and understanding when it comes to people in recovery. That shit is hard and if you haven’t struggled with it yourself – you just don’t know.