He wasn't the smartest, most successful or strongest, but Chandler Bing was an underdog we loved

Matthew Perry brought layers to the sarcastic goofball and underdog that was Chandler Bing. It made him all the more enjoyable to watch.

Matthew Perry's take on Chandler Bing — the quippy, sarcastic roommate — gave us an iconic and much-loved character.

Chandler wasn't the most sensitive, the strongest or the most successful character on Friends. He hovered somewhere in the middle — and that was his appeal.

The character became synonymous with Perry, who was found dead on the weekend aged 54, with none of his future roles breaking through the long shadow of his hit character.

Perry's Chandler elevated the mood with his sarcastic comic relief. He was self-deprecating but intelligent; he was first to mock someone when they needed taking down a peg or two (Ross), but he was supportive when it counted.

Like most people, he didn't have superlatives to define him — just a few jokes, a decent-yet-boring job and some amazing people in his life.

He didn't get the most emotional character arcs in Friends' early seasons — he was there to break up the tension — but as time passed, he became the show's voice of reason.

The birth of Chandler

Chandler Bing was a "textbook" child of divorce (as diagnosed by Phoebe's psychiatrist boyfriend, Roger), resorting to humour as a defence mechanism.

Perry likely brought his own insight to the role, as he mentions in his memoir, having been in the shared custody of separated parents at five years old.

In the pilot of Friends, one of his first scenes is Chandler relaying a dream he has had, in which he is naked and a phone where his genitals should be is ringing.

He answers. It's his mother, he says.

It's an immediate insight into the 10 seasons to come.

Chandler also spoke of times in his childhood when he struggled as the son of a transgender woman and drag queen.

He reflects on the embarrassment he felt as his father (played by Kathleen Turner) came to his swimming competitions dressed as a woman, in response to which Monica aptly points out: "At least he was there."

What started out as a comedic device became an enduring storyline of Chandler's ability to reconnect with his father.

Chandler's relationships

Chandler's struggles with women were a frequent trope for the sitcom, at one point seeing him stranded in an ATM vestibule with model and actress Jill Goodacre but unable to talk to her.

There was also a short-lived romance with an ex-school peer, played by Julia Roberts, which resulted in him being left in a toilet cubicle wearing nothing but a pair of women's underpants; revenge for Chandler lifting up her skirt at school.

His misfortune endeared him to the audience; his inability to talk to women combined with his quick wit around his friends was a ready-made comic device.

But over the show's 10 seasons, Chandler changed, growing out of his immaturity and evolving into a man who could be a supportive husband.

His relationship with the irritatingly nasal Janice set an early spark for his path to character growth.

Their early romance was tumultuous. We felt for this woman, oblivious to Chandler's disdain for her.

His inability to break off the relationship in season one, as he chugged double-digit numbers of espressos to muster up the courage to end their courtship, showed his inability to have a difficult conversation with a woman.

As a woman watching this scene, you wanted to shake him.

He was trapped in an on-again off-again relationship until an online romance culminated in a reunion — but this time, Chandler was in it for real.

In a rare glimmer of seriousness, Joey asks when Chandler is breaking it off with Janice.

"Not this time," Chandler assures Joey — until Janice is spotted by Joey kissing her ex, and the father of her children.

Chandler realises he doesn't want to be the other guy, like his father's partner was when Chandler was a child.

Chandler sits and discusses things with Janice, who agrees that she needs to give the relationship with her children's father another try.

"I don't want to be the guy that breaks up a family," he says — until he does an about-face, begging Janice to stay with him, clinging on to her as she tries to walk away.

Chandler grows up, as Perry flounders

The relationship between Monica and Chandler was where Perry's character came into his own emotionally.

Their relationship was not initially planned by the show's writers, but that was likely what made the pairing all the more authentic. In later seasons, tender moments shared by the duo — like the proposal, the wedding, and the discussion surrounding their inability to naturally conceive — all endeared Chandler to us further. 

His character's progress was in contrast to Perry's real life, as behind the scenes he was battling addiction and experiencing mental health struggles. 

But the show must go on, and so it did — at one point glossing over the fact that Perry dropped nearly 22 kilograms between seasons 6 and 7, despite an episodic arc set on the same night of Monica and Chandler's engagement.

Even while taking part in one of the series' brightest moments — Monica and Chandler's wedding — Perry admitted he was shuttled straight back to rehab after filming his scenes.

Could he BE any more funny?

Chandler Bing was not the most physically strong character — in fact, he was often mocked for his weakness. When Rachel brings Chandler to help Ross move his couch, for example, Ross replies with "Chandler? You brought Chandler? The next best thing would have been Monica."

Chandler nods in agreement.

Self-deprecation was part of Chandler's charm. He was OK with the fact that he wasn't the strongest, nor the most handsome, nor the most intelligent. But maybe that was what made him so likeable. 

And funny? That was his thing. Chandler prided himself on being funny.

Chandler Bing is the kind of friend you want — someone to make you laugh, to sometimes make fun of you, to be there when you need them, to listen and offer a shoulder to cry on, to enjoy a bite of a stolen cheesecake on the floor with you. 

Because he was human, he was imperfect and dammit, Chandler Bing, you couldn't have BEEN more funny.

As for whether this was all Chandler or Perry, there was little difference.

Perry said of the character in his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing: "It wasn’t that I thought I could play Chandler; I was Chandler."

Vale Matthew Perry.

Original article by ABC News

Author: 
ABC News - Caitlyn Davey