Wednesday, November 1, 2023

6 Relatable Chandler Bing Moments

This past weekend we learned of the passing of Matthew Perry, who was known for playing Chandler Bing on Friends. This blog post could have had a few different names; “RIP Miss Chanandler Bong” and “The One Where We Grieve Matthew Perry” both came to mind. And while I don’t think Matthew or Chandler would have taken issue with either, this moment felt too solemn for jokes. 

I don’t often get emotional or torn up at the news of celebrity deaths. Maybe I’m not emotionally invested in them as much as others or maybe it’s the religious perspective that means death isn’t the end. But every once in a while there’s a death that strikes a little deeper, especially when mental health and/or suicide is involved. While I’ve seen no reports pointing to suicide or drugs or anything foul, Matthew Perry self-reported his struggles with addiction, mental health, and recovery in his memoir published last year. 

While he was brilliantly comedic and sarcastic, for my Matthew Perry tribute, I wanted to focus on some of his simply relatable moments as Chandler Bing (though most of them have a certain amount of humor in them anyway). Beyond his jokes and witty remarks, he had other serious moments that touched my heart and made me feel seen, particularly as a man struggling with mental health. 

“You're a pathetic loser, right?”

It’s self-deprecating and I can’t exactly get behind that as healthy behavior… but that doesn’t mean I don’t frequently use self-deprecating humor. But when Rachel needed someone to relate to her in “The One With the Fake Party” when she felt like she was falling flat on her face (literally and figuratively) at impressing her new crush. She knew Chandler would be able to relate because of his insecurities. It was a small moment, but I’ve definitely felt like that self-deprecating pathetic loser before. 

“I'm hopeless and awkward and desperate for love!”

While trying to get through the hurdle that was commitment issues, Chandler spouted off the comical line above in “The One With the Metaphorical Tunnel”. Yeah, it was funny. But it was also relatable, as anyone who had insecurities in relationships and friendships. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this line as a GIF to describe a depressive mood or my anxiety taking over my mind. Even after getting together with Monica, he repeatedly had to face that shadow of insecurity, like when he found out that Monica had been seeking Joey in London, not him (see “The One With The Truth About London”). 

“I like maintaining you.”

Anyone with an insecure partner (or insecure themselves) has probably thought of this line. We all have our baggage and our quirks. Monica was insecure about being viewed as “high maintenance” by Rachel and Phoebe in “The One With the Joke”. While Chandler couldn’t deny the reality of her personality, he put a positive spin on it, calling her “passionate”. He also took pride in being able to help her in her difficult times. Just one more reason I think they’re the perfect TV couple.

“That's funny with the fricken, right?”

When Chandler started spending half his week in the south, he got less time with his wife and friends. And while he was gone, Monica made friends with the head waiter in “The One With The Male Nanny”. After she referred to him as the “funniest guy” she’d ever met, Chandler’s insecurities got all riled up. As if he didn’t already feel insecure, he started freaking out and trying to “out funny” Monica’s new friend. And thus started Chandler overcompensating with the funny to be affirmed. Funny hasn’t been my thing necessarily, but I’ve definitely had those times when I hunker down on a single part of my personality to be liked.

“I'm not good enough to raise Emma?”

This one hits hard as a dad. In the Thanksgiving episode “The One with Rachel's Other Sister” the subject of Emma’s guardianship came up and Chandler found out he’d only get custody with Monica. As he and Monica were already struggling to get pregnant (happened with me and my wife too) I’m sure he was already feeling insecure about being a father figure. Never mind the fact that he had a strained relationship with his father. To find out that his best friend didn’t trust him to raise his niece alone would have been heartbreaking. But being the good wife she is, Monica entered to remind him of the irresponsible circumstances that led to Emma’s conception. Turns out he was a responsible adult after all (more or less).

Wholesomely supporting a friend (or vice versa)

This one doesn’t have a specific quote or moment, because there are countless throughout the series. Whether it’s Chandler comforting Rachel or Monica (even before they started dating) or whether it’s the girls or Joey rallying around Chandler after a breakup, I love that Chandler wasn’t too much of a “man” to be available for a friend emotionally or to be vulnerable and let his friends in. I like to think that was just Matthew Perry shining through and being himself, despite the relapses and depression.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to grab my copy of his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing”. Watching Friends will never be the same again. Everytime Chandler says goodbye, it’ll mean something different this time. I pray Matthew Perry is at peace now after all his mental and emotional turmoil. 

You can check out Matthew Perry's memoir on Amazon and Audible.

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