Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
Published: 2022-11

I love Matthew Perry.  I loved this book.  I almost *really* loved this book (see my thoughts below in the next section.  They don’t contain spoilers).

It takes a lot of guts to open yourself up to a world that knows you, loves, you, and fully sees you as the hilarious Chandler Bing who can make you laugh until you cry simply by changing the emphasis of a random word in an otherwise insignificant rhetorical question.  He shares (and over shares) about his tumultuous upbringing, tumultuous rise to fame, tumultuous love life, tumultuous struggle with alcohol and prescription drugs…are we sensing a pattern here?  He begins telling his life story about the unstable family life into which he was born and continues by describing his childhood where he never quite felt like he belonged in his mom’s life or his dad’s life.  He catalogs his ascension to fame which was riddled with lots of opiates, lots of alcohol, lots of cigarettes, lots of women, lots of famous people, and lots and lots and lots of rehab.  His story is as difficult as a breakup with Janice (if you know, you know), but it’s his story to tell, and he does not hold back.  (READ ON BELOW…I don’t give spoilers here)

Trigger warnings: Language, drug use, sexual content, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts

I really struggled with deciding whether to give this a 4 star and not a 5 star rating.  Matthew Perry shares and, in some cases, overshares; however, I can’t fault him for oversharing because:

  1. I fully believe writing this was a therapeutic and, dare I say it, necessary exercise for him on his bumpy road to recovery
  2. The fact that knowing the behind the scenes of Chandler Bing making me slightly uncomfortable is on me and not him. I’m a FRIENDS FANATIC with a capital F and a capital ANATIC.  I still use quotes from FRIENDS in my everyday language.  I still have friends with whom I send constant FRIENDS memes and gifs that seemingly apply in every one of life’s situations.  I love Chandler!  But Chandler Bing isn’t real.  Matthew Perry is real, and this was his story.

What made this a *love* and not a *really love* is I was kind of confused about the timeline of the events he describes.  He jumps back and forth…a lot…and even repeats himself.   On one or two occasions (maybe more?) he tells the same story in a different way.

Matthew Perry lived this, so all the details are worked out in his head.  Given his extensive amount of drug use and alcohol abuse, and just considering his comedic ability to think quick and say what comes to mind the second it comes to mind, the way he tells his story is understandable (at least, in my opinion).  While confusing to me, I fully believe it makes sense to him, and I respect that.

I have read a lot of negative reviews of this book based on what I described above.  I guess I wasn’t alone in my confusion.  With that being said, does it really matter what we think of his “tell-all?”  If I were to write a tell-all, not that anyone would read it because…who cares…haha, it would probably make sense to me and nobody else.  I guess praise or criticism of the book depends on for what you were hoping to read.  If you are wanting a work of literary genius with a clear beginning, middle, and end, then either proceed with caution before reading or skip it altogether.  If you’re just looking for insight into Matthew Perry and his struggles, successes, and very dark battles, then read it on a surface level and try not to get caught up in placing everything he says into a neat timeline.  I’m admittedly biased because of my love for FRIENDS and the fact that I genuinely want him to find happiness and peace away from drugs and alcohol so, while I did notice what so many others are noticing in terms of timeline confusion and some repetition, I just can’t fault him…just maybe his editors!

Oh, and his love for and faith in God in the midst of his highest highs and lowest lows and a few times in between was a nice surprise!

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