Book Review on Matthew Perry's Friends, Lovers, and the Terrible Big Thing

The title of Matthew Perry’s autobiography, is a little deceving as the focus on his friends and the show Friends doesn’t dominate – rather, it takes second stage to Perry’s honest and frank sharing of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Perry leaves no stone unturned and doesn’t shirk away from the truth, when he describes how he really has no right to be alive.

Numerous stints in rehab centers, and life threatening surgery, have failed to cure Perry of his addiciton. He claims the only reason he doesn’t drink and take drugs any more, is because he simply cannot get enough of them to make a difference! We learn about huge highs, lows, detoxes and the reasons that, Perry claims, led to his addiction – a sense of abandonment, a difficult upbringing and a feeling of never quite being good enough. Perry explains that consequently runnning away from important relationships have¬† also shaped his life.

In many ways, Perry presents as not so dissimilar to how Chandler himself is depicted on the stage. Perry speaks generously of pasts loves, and disparagingly of himself and his achievements. He would give up all his wealth and. fame to have a hold over his addiction to drugs and alcohol. The book is full of what readers will recognise as Chandler wit, but pain is never far from the surface. 

Book Club Questions on Matthew Perry's Friends, Lovers, and the Terrible Big Thing

  • Perry shares a lot of highs and¬†lows of life in Friends, Lovers and the Terrible Big Thing. Discuss what you found the most poignant moment in the book. Why did you think this mattered so much?
  • What similarities did you find between between the characters of Matthew Perry and Chandler?
  • What did you learn about rehab from reading Matthew Perry’s book? Do you think Perry’s¬†representation of rehabilitation is accurate and fair?
  • At one point in the text, Perry is involved, relatively seriously, with two women at the same time. How, if at all, did this affect your opinion of Matthew Perry?
  • The foreward of the book was written by Lisa Kudrow, but yet she wasn’t in the Friends cast photo that was shared at the end of the book? Did you attach any signficance to this? And if so what?

Book Club Questions on Matthew Perry's Friends Lovers, and the Terrible Big Thing (If you haven't read the book!)

  • How important do you think personal photographs are in a celebrity autobiography?
  • What do you think motivates celebrities to write their autobiographies, or is it impossible to generalize?
  • Matthew Perry’s life was changed forever when he was cast as Chandler. Has anything (not in a show-biz way, but more everyday) changed your life forever? Discuss.
  • Discuss what you know about addiction. If you’d like to share any stories of how addiction has affected your own¬†life, or that of yourself, family and friends go ahead and do so.¬†

Personal Response to Matthew Perry's Friends Lovers, and the Terrible Big Thing

This is the most honest, raw and interesting autobiography that I’ve read. I was fascinated with how open and frank Matthew Perry was. It intrigues me that he said the only reason he no longer partakes in drink and drugs is because he couldn’t get enough of either to have an effect on him. There was absolutely no sugar-coating of the trauma, embarrassment and pain, suffering and loss that Perry’s addiction brought him. Far more effectively than anything else I’ve ever read, was his presentation on the power that addiction has over an individual.

For lovers of Friends, the T.V, series, the book presents a fascinating itinerary and timeline of how Chandler’s appearance parallels his dependency on drugs. The more hooked he was the thinner he appeared!¬†

Despite Perry’s honesty, I couldn’t quite bring myself to fully empathise with him. Whether it was how how Perry repeatedly said that he’d give up his wealth and fame to be cured, or whether it was his constant reference to being lonely, while still cheating on his partners, I felt a tad of irritation. Perhaps it was just the realisation that Matthew Perry, and thus, in my eyes, Chandler, was just a flawed human like all of us. Having said that Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing was a well-written book and a good read. I would definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who is trying to understand the complexities of addiction.

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