The Television of Career of Matthew Perry


If you have read any of my previous work here at TVOvermind (and I hope you have), you can get a pretty good grasp of which television shows I love. One of those series is Friends, which ran on NBC from 1994-2004. I have wrote dozens of articles devoted to the series, including picking the best episodes from each season and ranking the boyfriends and girlfriends of our favorite group of six. One of the actors of the series is currently starring on a new CBS sitcom. That man is Matthew Perry, and he and Thomas Lennon are the lead characters on the remake of the classic series The Odd Couple. Matthew Perry has a career in television that spans over five decades. We decided to take a look at the 45-year-old actor’s career, which includes some highs (Friends) and some lows (Mr. Sunshine).

First Role (1979)

Matthew Perry would first grace the screens of television sets in America in the late 1970s. He appeared in one episode of the series 240-Robert, which starred his father, John Bennett Perry. Perry would star as Arthur in the sixth episode of the first season. At this time, Perry was still living in Ottawa, Canada. He would later move to California in the 1980s to attend high school, as well as appear on a few popular series of the time.

TV Roles during High School (1983-1987)

Matthew Perry attended high school at The Buckley School located in Sherman Oaks California (other notable alumni school include Sara Gilbert, Alyssa Milano, and Rashida Jones). While attending school, Perry was able to appear on television in several small roles. In 1983, he would appear on an episode of Not Necessarily the News. This would be followed by an appearance on Charles in Charge in 1985 and Sliver Spoons in 1986. The following year, Perry would star in the TV movie Morning Maggie, which would also feature his Friends co-star Hank Azaria.

Post-High School Career (1987-1994)

The future was looking bright for Matthew Perry. So bright, that he decided to not attend college at the University of Southern California. Instead, Perry was offered a starring role in the series Second Chance. He would play Chazz, who has an older version of himself helping him make better life decisions. The series would be cancelled after one season. After the show ended, Perry moved on to starring in the TV movie Dance ’til Dawn and would guest star on series like Highway to Heaven, Empty Nest, and Just the Ten of Us. 

In 1989, Perry was awarded the small role of Sandy during the fourth season of Growing Pains. Sandy was Carol’s college boyfriend. He would end up being killed off in a car accident that involved drinking and driving. The following year, Perry would play Billy on the comedy Sydney. The series also starred Valerie Bertinelli, but it would be cancelled after 13 episodes aired. Perry would continue to find work guest starring on popular series like Who’s the Boss? and Beverly Hills, 90210. 

A few years later in 1993, Perry was cast on another series. It was called Home Free and was cancelled after 11 episodes. He was next picked up to star on the pilot for LAX 2194. The series, that was never picked up, was about baggage handlers working at LAX airport in the future. After LAX 2194, Perry would audition for a role that would change his life forever.

The Decade of Friends (1994-2004)

1994 would prove to be an awesome year for Matthew Perry. Despite being a part of LAX 2194, he was still able to audition for a role on a new sitcom called Six of One. The name of the series was soon changed to Friends, and it debuted on September 22, 1994 to rave reviews. Perry was cast as Chandler Bing, the sarcastic guy of the group, and was originally only intended to be a somewhat secondary character on the show.

Friends was a hit from the very beginning. The first season of the series averaged over 24 million viewers and was the eighth most popular show of the 1994-1995 television season. From Season 2 until the show concluded in Season 10, Friends was always ranked as a top five show and never averaged an audience of less than 20 million viewers (top series today would love to see numbers as high as these).

Perry, along with Matt Le Blanc, received an Emmy nomination for his work during the Seaosn 8 of Friends. Unfortunately, both actors lost out, but the series won the Emmy in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series that same year. Jennifer Aniston would win in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series that year, too.

Several Failed TV Projects (2006-2015)

It has not been easy for Matthew Perry to find a successful TV show to star in after his ten-season stint on Friends. In 2006, Perry made a return to television in the comedy/drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The series was created by Aaron Sorkin and starred Amanda Peet and Bradley Whitford. The pilot episode delivered an average amount of viewers, but a steady decline in viewership after every following episode caused the series to end at the conclusion of Season 1.

It would be a few years later before Perry would star on another television series, and this time he was not only the star but also the creator of the show. In 2011, ABC premiered Mr. Sunshine. The comedy would also feature Allison Janney and Andrea Anders. 13 episodes were made, but only nine aired on television before it was cancelled due to low ratings.

Perry would take another stab at starring in a sitcom in 2012. He portrayed Ryan King, a sportscaster who must cope with the loss of his wife, on NBC’s Go On. The pilot episode, which aired after the Olympics, drew 16.1 million viewers, so it was no surprise that NBC picked it up for a full season. Sadly, the season finale was only watched by 2.67 million viewers, and the show was cancelled soon after.

Only time will tell how The Odd Couple will fare in the ratings. After four airings, the show is averaging 12 million viewers. This could mean that Matthew Perry has broken his curse of starring in a television series that gets the axed after only one season. We’ll just have to wait and see.

What is your favorite TV role of Matthew Perry’s? Let us know in the comments section below.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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