Matthew Perry, Friends and Wasted Youth

Live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna.

— William Shatner, in You’ll Have Time

Matthew Perry recently died, at the age of 54. Apparently, he drowned in the hot tub at his home. Full details have not been released, but it’s pretty hard to drown in a hot tub unless you are passed out from alcohol or drugs. I suppose it could have been a sudden heart attack or a stroke.

By ordinary standards, Matthew Perry was one of the most successful men in the world. He was rich and famous in his 20s. He had what every guy dreams of having: the magic key that unlocks pussy. In his prime, he could have married almost any nubile young woman of his choice, settled down, and supported a family in luxury. But he died alone, a biological failure, having fathered no children.

How did this happen?

Matthew Perry’s life illustrates the power of opiate drugs, the problems with hedonism, and the tragedy of wasted youth. He had it all, but it wasn’t enough.

Fame, fortune and pussy pale in comparison to opiate drugs. The drug reduces motivation, creating pure pleasure. You don’t feel hunger, fatigue or anxiety. You just feel warm and fuzzy. When it wears off, however, your motivation returns. The normal background level of motivation, which is necessary to drive you through life, now feels like torture. The opiate addict then seeks the next fix to escape from the torture of ordinary existence, and the cycle repeats.

Matthew Perry was so desperate for the next fix that, despite being rich and famous, he would steal drugs to get high. He would go to a real estate open house and look in the medicine cabinet for painkillers. Nothing else mattered.

You might think that a happiness pill would make you happy. It does in the short run, but not in the long run. Nothing makes you happy in the long run: fame, fortune, pussy or opium.

Matthew Perry fell into an alienation trap. (See Alienation and Art.) Opiate drugs alienate your emotions from their natural functions. The addict learns to satisfy his emotions with the drug, rather than solving problems in real life. So, his life becomes a mess. He doesn’t eat properly. He becomes clumsy, because the feedback of physical pain is not present. He doesn’t form stable relationships. Often, he ends up dead of an overdose. In that case, he dies happy.

The pursuit of happiness can kill you.

Hedonism doesn’t work as the basis for life when we can satisfy emotions artificially. Opiate drugs are a very powerful way to do that, but not the only way. At least we recognize opiate drugs as dangerous. Birth control is even more dangerous, because we view it as a good thing.

Birth control allows you to satisfy lust without having children. That is not harmful in itself, but it can destroy lives. We didn’t evolve to make the decision to have children. Our emotions are not adapted to this new type of agency.

The pursuit of happiness can make you sterile.

Matthew Perry’s failure in life was mostly due to birth control, not opiates. He dated beautiful women, such as Yasmine Bleeth and Julia Roberts, but he never fathered a child.

Friends was one of the most popular shows of all time. It ran for 10 seasons: 1994 to 2004. It was a big part of 90s pop culture.

Friends was about young adulthood. The premise was simple: three young women and three young men, living in the city, pursuing romantic/sexual affairs, having fun, and trying to get somewhere in life.

The show focused on love and sex. The main characters were in their early to mid twenties and single. They were beautiful and handsome, looking for love or sex or both. When the show began, this did not seem pathological. However, as the show dragged on, year after year, the characters did not fully transition to adulthood. They seemed stuck in eternal youth, despite aging. They aged out of their roles, but the show went on.

If the characters had married and moved to the suburbs, the (extremely lucrative) show would have lost its premise. But it became increasingly tragic to watch these characters fail to make progress in their lives, or make very little progress.

I’m oversimplifying Friends, of course. It was more complicated. When the show began, Ross already had a child with his former wife. He had transitioned to adulthood, but then his marriage fell apart, knocking him back into a more youthful lifestyle. Rachel had almost gotten married, but had balked at the last minute. Chandler and Monica finally got together at the end of season 7. Rachel eventually had a kid (with Ross, I think). There were various relationships during the show, and a few children. But the essential theme was young adulthood, and the pursuit of love and sex.

To be honest, I didn’t watch many episodes after the first few seasons. I lost interest when it became more of a soap opera than a comedy.

Friends symbolizes the tragedy of modern romance. Despite being attractive, the characters couldn’t form lasting relationships. They formed brief attachments, broke up, and then did it again. They had sex with birth control, and failed to make the transition to adulthood.

It should have been a cautionary tale about the danger of prolonging youth. But few people took it that way.

Youth is the time to build the foundation of your life. You have to find a mate, get an education, and start a career. The rest of your life is spent building on that foundation. The decisions you make in your early 20s are very important. But you also have some time to explore possibilities and recover from mistakes. That’s why early adulthood is so interesting.

Youth is also beautiful. Once you stop growing, you start aging. There is a brief period of time after the growth process has finished and when the aging process has barely begun. That is when people attain their fullest beauty, even men. Women often prefer older men, but a younger man has a better physical form. It is less degraded by time.

Matthew Perry was an attractive young man, but he did not age well. You can watch clips of him later in life on YouTube. He could still be funny and charming, but his face was so ugly that it was painful to watch. You just kept thinking “What happened to him?” or “Could he BE any uglier?”. Of course, the drugs had something to do with it. But aging happens to everyone, if they live long enough.

The main Friends actors did almost as poorly as their characters. Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) had one child. She was pregnant during the fourth season, and this was written into the show as her being a surrogate mother, presumably because the show’s premise would have suffered with the addition of a child. Courtney Cox (Monica) had one child, born when she was 40 years old, after the final episode of Friends. Matt LeBlanc (Joey) had one child, also born in 2004, when he was in his late 30s. David Schwimmer (Ross) had one child, born in 2011, when he was in his mid 40s. Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) had no children, and she is now 54 years old. Matthew Perry (Chandler) died childless.

Between the six of them, they had only four children. They would need at least 12 to have replacement-level fertility. They were biological failures.

Gen X has mostly passed through its reproductive lifespan. For US women born between 1966 and 1975, their cumulative fertility was roughly 2.1, which is just about replacement. (See Is US Fertility now Below Replacement?.)

Our culture encourages young people to postpone marriage and children, but that is terrible advice. Ideally, people should get married in their early to mid twenties, when they are still young and beautiful, and then start having children. Waiting doesn’t accomplish anything, especially for women. Men can afford to wait a bit longer, but not too long.

The meaning of life comes from reproduction, not from a pill bottle or from casual sex.

Don’t waste your youth. Use your torch to light new torches, because it won’t burn forever. Pass on your beauty before it fades.


  1. If that's so, why hasn't Jennifer Aniston overdosed yet? I think you are trying to fit this into a preconceived narrative.

    1. Are you insane or trolling? Your comment makes no sense. Nothing in the article implies that Jennifer Aniston would overdose.

    2. I think they were referring to how the post seems to imply Matthew Perry being childless leads to overdose or a similar fate and why Jennifer Aniston has also not suffered the same as Perry. I do find only a selective amount of the population should be procreating since a larger portion are too dysgenic to inherit the current infrastructure.

    3. The post doesn't imply that Matthew Perry died because he was childless. I don't know how someone could arrive at that interpretation. It's a bizarre leap. I guess some people just skim over the words without really processing them.

    4. Does adopting children count as a form of being childless if somebody was unable to bear children?

    5. Yeah, adopting children is not reproducing.

  2. More personal experience, but I have found a majority of young parents all the way back to the parents of boomers, having kids in the early 20s has not fostered good results. Most of the time they are highly hedonistic and dysfunctional as a family unit and more 30 somethings having kids seem to foster more functional behavior in both parents and children.

    1. You can have more kids if you start in your 20s than if you start in your 30s. There's no biological benefit to throwing away most of your reproductive lifespan. For most of human history, women started having children in their teens.

      As for your observation, I haven't observed it myself. If there's any truth to it, it's probably due to a common cause: less intelligent or responsible people having children by accident in their 20s, rather than by conscious choice.


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