Maybe you don’t like Friends. Maybe you find it cloying, irritating, mannered, obvious. You can still be a Matthew Perry fan.
Chandler, Perry’s character on the beloved sitcom, always seemed to belong in a different show, anyway, a better one, a darker one.
People who love friends love Rachel, Joey, Monica or Phoebe. If you don’t love Friends, or if you don’t even like Friends, Matthew Perry was probably your favorite “friend.”
Here are a few Matthew Perry performances for people who don’t like Friends.
3. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: A deadly dark dramedy about funny people making the unfunniest sketch comedy show ever seen on television. This premiered the same year as 30 Rock, which utterly overshadowed it, so if you like this, you are a contrarian in more ways than one. Perry played Matt Albie, a pill-popping, hallucinating head writer, a stand-in for creator Aaron Sorkin, but also, as we knew even then, a stand-in for Perry himself. A great, hilarious and tragic performance in a sometimes great show.
2. The Whole Nine Yards: In this hit comedy, Perry plays a pessimistic, defeated-by-life dentist named Oz Oseransky, who becomes entangled in the world of organized crime after his neighbor, Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski (Bruce Willis), moves in next door. Amanda Peet is hilariously adorable as a mobster fan-girl, and Rosanna Arquette is hilariously awful as Oseransky’s wife. But here again, Perry is hilarious just by reacting to the absurdity of a life that keeps getting worse. Few comedians since Jack Benny have been so funny just by reacting, by staring glumly and disbelievingly.
- Mr. Sunshine (Episode 1): An ensemble comedy with Perry as a gloomy loner on the cusp of turning 40,who runs a sports arena; the cast (including the great Nate Perry and Allison Janney) was hilarious, and Perry proved that there is nothing as funny as an angry straight man. After a first episode that ranks among the most hilarious half hours ever shown on network television, the show collapsed. But that first episode is still out there to watch, to imagine what might have been.
Honorary mention: Perry’s sole directing credit was a classic episode of the classic sitcom Scrubs entitled “My Unicorn,” in which he also co-starred with his father and uncle.
A career that could have been so much more; but, even so, there is so much to enjoy and to love.
And maybe you loved Friends.
This review was written by Steven S. Drachman.