In an extraordinary story that only he could tell, Matthew Perry takes readers onto the soundstage of the most successful sitcom of all time while opening up about his private struggles with addiction. Candid, self-aware, and told with his trademark humor, Perry vividly details his lifelong battle with the disease and what fueled it despite seemingly having it all.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is an unforgettable memoir that shares the most intimate details of the love Perry lost, his darkest days, and his greatest friends.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (AbeBooks) is the much-anticipated memoir of one of the stars of the wildly popular 1990’s American sitcom, Friends. Matthew Perry played Chandler Bing, my favorite character on the series. If you’re a fan of the series, this is a must-have book or audiobook.
Being a fan of Friends since its first week on the air, I knew of Perry’s background: Canadian-born, his father was the Old Spice man on commercials, he was a really good tennis player on the junior circuit in Canada, but it didn’t translate to success in America, where his skills made him simply a country club pro player. I also knew about his much-publicized battle with drugs and alcohol during and after Friends. But this is Perry’s chance to tell his story, and what I thought I knew about him just scratched the surface.
The majority of the book is dark and disturbing, as battles with addiction to alcohol and drugs should be. There’s no way to sugar-coat it, and thankfully Perry doesn’t.
The book goes something like this: I met a woman, whom I objectified, pushed her away to save her, was left alone to spiral into this dark addiction, I went to rehab, which didn’t really work, or maybe it did because I was sober for a while, doctors don’t know anything, then I relapsed. Do that about ten times and that’s the bulk of the book. Perry also had a terrible time when his colon exploded and he was forced to wear a colostomy bag for a while. He says that was when he felt the lowest and sort of made fun of the whole situation.
There’s surprisingly little about his time on Friends (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) or his co-workers, other than to say that each cast member was actually making more than a million dollars an episode and for some stupid reason they wanted to shorten the seasons. He repeats the much-known story of David Schwimmer approaching his co-workers early on and saying they should negotiate as one instead of any one of them pushing for star status.
I was curious about his work on his post-Friends show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, helmed by Aaron Sorkin, and wondering why it wasn’t a success. I thought it was a fabulous show for the most part, as I love pretty much anything Aaron Sorkin has done, but found out Sorkin’s a control freak who won’t deviate from his written script, even if someone’s suggestion makes the show better. It was a great concept that could have been a great success with someone else in charge.
And as much as I enjoyed this listen, I ultimately came away feeling sorry for him and sure he’s going to relapse again. And the way he treats women and how he describes his relationships, he’s going to die alone. This is definitely not a feel-good book with a redemptive ending, rather a cautionary tale of addiction and fame and the battles that go with it. Once again, I’ve read a biography or memoir of someone whose work I admire, only to find out that personally, I would never be friends with them, not because of the addiction, but because of all the other things like treating women like crap and coming across as pompous and condescending. I do recommend, that if you do want to check out the book, the audio version is the way to go because at the very least, you know Perry is a consummate performer.
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