I’ve always been a massive fan of Friends, it is without a doubt one of my favourite shows of all time and I’ll put it on almost any time of the day. When I saw Matthew Perry had released a memoir, I was very keen to read who the real Chandler was. I knew about his addiction but only on a very surface level “Ooh, did you know Chandler was apparently addicted to drugs during his time on Friends” sort of level but wasn’t aware of the horrible and harrowing depths to which the addiction took over his life.
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Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing tells Matthew Perry’s memoir, focusing on his incredible ongoing and relentless battle with addictions to drugs and alcohol. If you’re a fan of Friends then I will warn you that this may change the way you look at the show forever. In short: despite the humour and joy the show produces, Perry is struggling with staying alive behind the scenes and it begins to get into his work.
Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing plot – 4.5/5
So this is a memoir so the review of the plot isn’t based on what the writer has created and how well it has all come together, but more my simple reaction to the incredible stories and overall tale that Perry has chosen to tell.
In Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing Perry starts you from the very beginning of his life, talking about his parents and his opinions on how they parented him, how he grew up using humour as a way of covering up any insecurities, how when he first got drunk instead of throwing up or feeling fear like his friends, he felt true bliss for the very first time. It’s all very harrowing with a lot of explanations (though crucially never excuses) as to where he thinks the addiction make have sourced from.
He talks about his time in Friends, his struggle with balancing his addiction with relationships and his professional life. He discusses how despite being good-looking, ridiculously wealthy and very successful, nothing could help his addiction.
The whole book is very dark. There are moments where he discusses nearly dying and some very troubling moments in his life. I commend Perry for not pulling any punches here and being brutal and honest about all of the horrible moments he faced. I don’t want to spoil the book too much as there’s so much to digest in here which will leave you feeling quite sorry for Perry but also so proud (he’s technically been sober since 2001 but has recently said that he’s now properly sober).
One other thing I must mention is that this book, despite being about a very dark matter still manages to slip in some humour. If you’re not someone who can take a darker joke, this may not be the book for you.
Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing characters – 4/5
How does one rate the characters from a memoir? Well I think the best place to start is the personality and opinions that Matthew Perry himself gives across. When I went into this book, I heard he had come out as a bit of an ass. However, this is likely again from those with fairly weak walls. As I mentioned in the paragraph above, if you can’t take a joke, then yes you’ll likely take offence with some of the things in this list (though I can tell you now, none of it is aimed at you.)
Perry praises almost everyone he’s worked with, including his Friends costars who you’d think after working with them for ten years he’d have some bad things to say about, but he simply doesn’t/
The vibe he gives off is that he’s actually a very nice guy who has grown an ego based on being one of the most popular names in America for a few years and having earned a hideous amount of money. Also, for a while, he was considered incredibly really good-looking and could literally get any woman he wanted. With all of this, he’s grown an ego that you have to argue many would struggle to contain.
However, despite his willingness to accept these aspects of his life, he never forgets to remember how very low he was or how mean he was to certain people when high or drunk. He talks of it as a disease that ate away at him and controlled the way he lived his life for way too long – making you feel sorry for him!
Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing final rating – 4.5
Matthew Perry’s memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing was an incredibly powerful tale of a man who, to everyone’s untrained eye had everything: money, good looks, fame, popularity, the women, the house, the cars, the career. But behind that, away from the public, the limelight and the cameras he was struggling with one of the most all-encompassing diseases somebody with an able body could suffer from – an addiction.
If you’re a fan of Friends, I’d go into this book with caution as you may never be able to watch it without thinking of Chandler differently. However, in the same breath, I’d wholeheartedly recommend reading Perry’s story. It’s real, it’s brutal and it is emotional – everything you want the memoir of one of the most famous men on TV to be.
If you liked this book then you may like my reviews of the following books: