Monica and Chandler: Friends’ Best Couple

The world is in mourning for Friends star Matthew Perry. Literally, they played “I’ll Be There for You” on the bells of a cathedral in Bruges Sunday morning. Peers and fans alike went on social media praising Perry’s comedic chops, and his ability to add heart to a silly little guy like Chandler Bing. It is this emotional finesse that sold the show’s biggest evolution, the coupling of Chandler and Monica. It transformed the show, and it modeled one of the more healthy relationships on a sitcom. Ever.

My parents have been married for 53 years. My mother is a marriage counselor. And yet, I think I learned as much about making a relationship work from Monica and Chandler on Friends as I did from parents 50+ years-long successful marriage.

To be terminally online, Monica and Chandler taught me it was okay to be weird. Because in the prison of heteronormativity, there’s nothing weirder than liking your partner as a friend. The message of Monica and Chandler is that you should like the person you spend the majority of your life with. It will make you happier than the trad sitcom wife life.

The normal sitcom relationship is a nagging hottie and her rascal of a husband. She’s a single mother raising her partner and their children. Her sole purpose in life is to go “Homer, no!” whenever Homer does whatever Homer does. The husband tries to get away with shenanigans, and the wife is his warden. He’s Colonel Hogan, trying to lead a resistance in her house. (This technically makes the wife a nazi, so that’s unfortunate.) It’s an adversarial relationship, a marriage of attrition.

Ross and Rachel had one of these romances. It was constant fights, constant shenanigans, constant justifications for bad behavior. One of those justifications, “We were on a break!” became Ross’s catchphrase for fuck’s sake. Ross tried to win every fight, and that’s why he got divorced three times. The real way to win is to never split up into teams in the first place. So often, this is what Monica and Chandler did. And in one particular episode, they skipped the fight altogether.

Everything I needed to know about love, I learned from season 8’s “The One With the Red Sweater.” It’s the day after Monica and Chandler’s wedding, and the happy couple spend most of the episode apart getting up to some bullshit. Monica, in a desperate attempt to regain the bridal high, opens all the wedding gifts without Chandler. And Chandler loses his wedding photos. To try and create at least one disposable camera’s worth of memories, he and Ross crash a wedding and fake some tender moments. Including Chandler kissing the bride, of course. Monica and Chandler discover each other’s fuckups simultaneously, which leads to this exchange.

Chandler: You opened all the presents without me? I thought we were supposed to do that together!

Monica: You kissed another woman? 

Chandler: Call it even? 

Monica: Okay!

They high five.

Sometimes it really can be that easy. You can just high five. Thanks to increasingly toxic sections of the internet, we’re back to a “battle of the sexes”-level of discourse that is truly exhausting. But not so long ago, romantic partners could high five their problems away. You still can, and you may even realize it’s more fun than winning a relationship. In a world filled with Rosses, be a Chandler.

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