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The Student News Site of Buena Vista University

The Tack Online

The Student News Site of Buena Vista University

The Tack Online

Matthew Perry’s Death Shook Me to My Core and Reading His Memoir Made It Worse


I never was one to react very strongly to the deaths of celebrities. Very rarely would it be anything more than me saying “Oh, that’s sad,” to nobody in particular. After all, I didn’t know them, right? That all changed on Oct. 28, 2023. 

I’ll set the scene: I was sitting on a bus, riding home after helping with media coverage for a volleyball game. I took a brief moment to scroll through X (formerly Twitter) to see what popped up on my feed. I, like many people nowadays, use it as one of my main news sources. As I scrolled through post after post, I came across one that hadn’t even been up for 20 minutes, featuring a picture of Matthew Perry with a simple caption: “Matthew Perry dead at 54 after apparent drowning.” 

I thought, “There’s no way that something like this would be true, right? Matthew Perry?” I kept scrolling just to see that the next post was about the same thing. And the next one. And the next one. My social media feeds became bombarded with the news of his death. For the first time in my life, I was genuinely shocked and mourned the death of a celebrity.  

Let’s rewind to last summer. 

I was walking into a Barnes & Noble in West Des Moines. I hadn’t been in one in a while, but I was there on a mission. It was the second one I had gone to that day, as the first one didn’t have the book that I was looking for. I circled a few laps around the store, but I couldn’t find it. I was becoming slightly frustrated but I held onto one last hope — the nearest Barnes & Noble employee that I could find.  

“Excuse me, do you know where I could find the Matthew Perry memoir? It’s called ‘Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,’” I politely asked the employee at the counter. We then spent about 10 minutes wandering the store. “This is the last time I’m going to a Barnes & Noble,” I started to think. But then, as a last-ditch effort, the employee headed to a rack right by the door where books on sale were displayed all around.  

“Do you see it? It should be here…,” she said, scanning the shelves. I idly scanned with my eyes, not looking too intently, when I landed on it. A large picture of Matthew Perry’s face leaned on the display. Five minutes later, I was walking through the front door with the Matthew Perry memoir in my hand.  

Why did I decide to get the book, you may ask? It was all because of this interview with Diane Sawyer that Perry had done shortly after releasing his book.

Watching that entire interview series made me feel a much deeper connection to Perry because he suddenly felt so real. He dealt with so many different things that I could relate to.

There was a clip of Perry in a separate interview explaining that it didn’t seem fair that he had to deal with his own inner demons, while none of the other cast members of “Friends” did. Something about the vulnerability he showed in his interview with Sawyer just spoke to me in a way that no other celebrity interview had. I suddenly was seeing a bit of myself in the hilarious celebrity on my television screen.  

It goes without saying that being a fan of Perry means that I’m a fan of “Friends” and, obviously, a fan of Chandler Bing. When I was a kid and watched “Friends” for the first time, I knew immediately that Chandler was my favorite. His sense of humor and how he so effortlessly was able to make people laugh was exactly what I wanted in my life. I wanted to be Chandler Bing. I’ve kept part of that desire for my entire life.   

Reading Perry’s memoir made the weight of his passing worse because I knew more about what he wanted with his life and his hopes for the future. He still wanted to get married, have kids, and build a life for himself. Essentially, he wanted the life that Chandler Bing had by the end of “Friends.” A life that I, and many others, would also like to have someday.  

Matthew Perry took a route that put him through complete hell to get to where he was by the time he died, and it absolutely broke my heart to learn more about what he wanted before his death, knowing he was never going to achieve that. 

On Oct. 28, 2023, I felt like I had lost a friend. 

And I know I’m not the only one.

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About the Contributor
Joshua Woolcott
My name is Joshua Woolcott, and I am a senior digital media major. Along with being a contributing writer for the Tack, I am the Station Manager for KBVU, the Operations Manager of BVTV, the Vice-President of SCJ, and am on the leadership team for IMPACT. I love movies, writing, and storytelling. 

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  • J

    JNov 20, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    Totally can relate on the feeling of loosing a friend with Perry’s untimely death. RIP

  • M

    Mrs BongNov 20, 2023 at 12:10 am

    Same… I’m struggling to stop feeling the pain of his loss. He was very very special