Review: Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry’s “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing” is antithetical to every celebrity memoir I’ve read. Which makes it one of the most extraordinary.

This is no nostalgic trip down memory lane, replete with behind-the-scenes gossip and outrageous revelations about the cast of ‘Friends.’ There’s no swagger to Perry’s autobiography. Whatever hubris the man once had has seemingly extinguished. He acknowledges his extraordinary career. He admits to his fortune. From the outside, looking in, you might think he’s got it all: the role of a lifetime, which cemented his place in popular culture, and residuals for the rest of his life. But during it all, Perry has struggled through decades of addiction; of self-loathing; of loneliness; doomed relationships; and failed sobriety. The big, terrible thing.

Before he was famous, Perry prayed: “God, you can do whatever you want to me. Just please make me famous.” I don’t really believe some higher power answered him. But, man — what if? Perry is obscenely open and self-effacing in the retelling of his life. That’s what makes “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing” so damn fascinating. Perry accepts the good and wonderful things that’ve happened in his life; but these moments are almost swept over as he gets into the weeds of his darkest moments, and his constant battle against the tide to reach the light.

This isn’t really a celebrity tell-all; it’s a memoir about addiction, by a man who happens to be famous. It makes you wonder how anybody without Perry’s wealth and stardom could survive in similar circumstances. Honestly, they probably wouldn’t. Maybe we need to think about that.

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