Friends ended some 17 years ago this May, but you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a going concern. With second and third lives given to it by TV re-runs and streaming, the low concept sitcom remains a perennial favourite and visual comfort food for later generations long after the Central Perk Six left our screens.
The careers of its stars, however, have been more of a mixed bag. Seventeen years is a long time in Hollywood, and has required the actors to reinvent themselves many times over in order to remain relevant - and some have done it far better than others.
While some have managed to transcend the show which gave them their big break, others appear doomed to remain linked to one job and one character only. They’re by no means requiring of sympathy - each of these six is made for life and bonafide TV royalty - but the plight of an ex-sitcom superstar can make for frustrating reading.
With the Friends reunion giving us another excuse to reminisce about the show, here’s a look at the varying fates of our favourite Manhattanite chums.
6. Matthew Perry
Arguably the most naturally comedically gifted of the bunch, the former Chandler has nevertheless found the transition the toughest. Perry has been given several leading roles in TV shows, but without exception they have proven to be short lived, and often somewhat poorly received.
Most notably was Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, the ceaselessly annoying Hollywood insider drama by Aaron Sorkin. Mr Sunshine, Go On, and the rebooted Odd Couple followed; Perry frequently took a producer roll alongside starring, but each of these flopped, knocking his status down a little further each time.
The sad thing is, Perry’s often excellent in these roles, particularly Studio 60, which puts his weary charm to absolutely perfect use. He co-starred in the underrated 17 Again, but really serves only to bookend the film, which is otherwise a Zach Efron drama.
Perry continues to take interesting work onstage, and recently played Ted Kennedy in a bold if forgettable turn in a TV drama. He’s the one you’d probably have bet on for most of Friends’ run, but things have never clicked for the sarcasm enthusiast.