A Nation’s Heartfelt Goodbye
China’s deep-seated affection for the classic American sitcom ‘Friends’ has been reignited as fans across the country mourn the loss of Matthew Perry. The actor’s recent passing has brought together communities in shared remembrance of the star who was loved not just on-screen but in the hearts of many as an old friend.
An Impromptu Tribute in Shenzhen
In a quaint café in Shenzhen, named Smelly Cat after the sitcom’s famous song, fans gathered to pay homage to Perry. The café, echoing the show’s own Central Perk, became a sanctuary where floral tributes adorned the space and episodes of ‘Friends’ played in tribute to the actor who had become a fixture in their lives.
A Cultural Phenomenon
Long before ‘Friends’ officially aired in China in 2012, it had already captured the hearts of the nation. Bootlegged DVDs and hard drive copies circulated with fan-made Mandarin subtitles, propelling the series to a cult status. It offered Chinese audiences a glimpse into Western life, complete with uncensored discussions on topics rarely seen on local television.
More Than Just a Sitcom
For many Chinese viewers, ‘Friends’ was a window to learning English and understanding American culture. Matthew Perry’s character, Chandler Bing, in particular, resonated with young adults experiencing the transition to independent city life, embedding the character and the show deeply into the fabric of their formative years.
Embracing ‘Friends’ in Everyday Life
In Shanghai, a replica of the Central Perk café saw an outpouring of fans, crowding the space to share stories and memories. Personal connections to the characters, particularly to Perry’s Chandler, run deep, with some fans expressing their affection through tributes such as matching tattoos depicting iconic scenes from the show.
The Legacy Lives On
Even as the news of Perry’s passing spreads, fans like mechanical engineer Zhang Fengguang find solace in the show’s legacy. Recreating Chandler’s proposal to Monica, Zhang proposed to his now-fiancée, cementing the show’s influence on their lives.
A Global Friendship
Matthew Perry’s portrayal of Chandler Bing on ‘Friends’ has left an indelible mark on fans worldwide. In China, where the show represents a beacon of culture, comedy, and camaraderie, his death is felt as a personal loss. As they bid farewell to a beloved icon, Perry’s legacy endures in the memories and the very fabric of countless Chinese fans’ lives.