Chandler Bing, or How the Self-Deprecating Loser Turns Into Our Favorite Hero

Rest in glory, Matthew Perry and Miss Chanandler Bong.

I won’t be able to watch another Friends episode for a while. 

It’s too cruel of a reminder about how the best ones die young and our childhood heroes leave us to fend for ourselves.

MJ and Prince left a long time ago. There was too much divine glory in those slender bodies to be able to take Earth’s dense reality. 

My friend Roxana, who dedicated her every waking moment to helping animals in need, died a stupid Covid death at 40. 

And there are many more. Have you noticed how the good ones never make it past 50?

And now… Matthew Perry passed away at 54. 

And with him left one of American culture’s most unexpected heroes: Chandler Bing, creator of comedy heaven, king of sarcasm, commitment-phobe with a heart of gold, and the best Friend the world ever deserved.

Friends fans probably already know this, but Chandler Bing was never meant to shine. He was supposed to be a supportive character to Rachel and Ross’s love story and say a funny line from time to time, for comic relief.

But that’s what happens when you’re too bright for the shadows and the public takes a step back from the hero to take a better look at the loser. 
That’s what happens when the world connects with you so deeply that they want to see more of you, the raw, broken you.

When Matthew Perry came in to audition for the part, he went off-script and into pure Chandlerness in a matter of minutes. It was easy to do and everybody could tell. There was no need for method acting: he was Chandler already.

An only child whose parents divorced when he was one. A sweet and devoted friend who was there through everyone’s most difficult moments. 

A highly intelligent human with the capacity for pure comedy, snarky remarks, and witty sarcasm that give you the comfort that maybe somehow you’re not alone in a hostile world.

A man who fell in love deeply, but was incapable of finding that magic and quiet spot in his brain and heart where he could settle down into a secure attachment.

That’s how similar they were.

Matthew went on to write a lot of his own punch lines in the sitcom and the public lapped them up and asked for more.

More came as a very unexpected twist, meant to be nothing more than an awkward moment that would be remembered as a source of comedy. Chandler and Monica, the most unexpected pairing, sleep together in a moment of drunken weakness. But the public wouldn’t let something that beautiful be only a one-night stand.

While they were filming that episode and the story was unraveling, the audience started going wild with excitement, cheering and screaming so loudly that they had to pause the filming several times so the viewers could settle down.

But the message was clear: the fans loved Chandler so much that they wanted to see him find love.

And although in real life Matthew Perry never got married, in the show he ends up getting over his insecurities and his fear of commitment and marries the love of his life.

It’s a beautiful lesson for all the men out there who have ever identified with Chandler’s character and his romantic love life. And I know from personal experience there are plenty of them.

Smart, funny, good men who are insecure around women and end up driving them away. Men who truly love women but have no idea how to form a genuine connection. Men who are riddled with self-doubt and self-deprecating sarcasm, but still crave love in their life, while lacking the social and emotional skills to form one.

Chandler showed the good men how to connect with women without pick-up artist tricks or swallowing any red pill propaganda. Chandler was the man. And the fans adored him. Both the men and the women.

The men identified with his character and the women wanted to be with his character. It’s a huge lesson in what really works for love and connection, regardless of what ‘the bros’ would have you believe.

Chandler Bing showed every man out there that it can be done.

Chandler Bing changed culture: from the classic tough leather-wearing chain-smoking hero of the 80s to the vest-sporting, milk-drinking human and real hero of the 90s.

Chandler, together with Ross and Joey did that for us.

They made heroes real.

They gave real people like you and me the chance to be the hero in our own lives.

And we all loved them for that. Loved them so much that we wanted to be like them or be with them.

Despite everything, the brilliant, devoted, unpretentious, self-described ‘hopeless and awkward and desperate for love’ Chandler became in the minds and hearts of the feminine public, the ideal man.

In a time when the likes of Brad Pitt, Clooney, and DiCaprio roamed the earth with their dazzling charm and spectacular good looks, a simple data analyst living with a roommate in a small apartment in New York made women across the globe swoon.

Chandler Bing, ladies and gentlemen. A lesson in humanity. And how we can all find what we’re looking for, as long as we let somebody love us.

Thank you for the low-key glory, brilliant Mr. Bing! 


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