There are a lot of “will they or won’t they?” ships in the history of television, but sometimes, audiences need something different. Sometimes, they need a “surprise, they did!” kind of ship. A ship where the viewer didn’t really see it coming…but then, it works so well. My favorite of these is Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) of Friends. They were not the only ship on what just might be the most successful sitcom of all time, but they are wonderful.
Let’s talk about them!
Chandler was the sarcastic, funny guy in this group of six buddies, and Monica was the neurotic clean freak. Neither of them was ever very lucky in love. They’d known each other for years, even before the series began, because Chandler was Monica’s brother Ross’ college roommate. The audience saw them lean on each other through romantic woes and be there for each other through life’s big moments, just like all the characters were on Friends.
Before their shocking hookup in the season 4 finale at Ross’ London wedding, the premiere of that same season featured a priceless comedic moment that functioned almost as reverse foreshadowing. Monica is stung by a jellyfish, and Chandler is the one who has to help in an unusual way. Chandler had kept up a running discussion about being boyfriend material during the beach trip, so it’s quite a payoff when she tells him, “You will always be the guy who peed on me.”
We’ll check back with you in the finale, Mon!
Chandler has always been afraid of commitment, so his character growth was one of the best aspects of their relationship. Even during the early part, when they were keeping it secret from everyone else, Chandler got some wonderful “best boyfriend” speeches. Those just continued after the reveal of their relationship and the love declaration in the classic “The One Where Everybody Finds Out.”
(Remember Phoebe’s horrified “MY EYES! MY EYES!”?)
Chandler evolved to the point where he was ready to propose in the season 6 finale. He almost messed things up by trying to make Monica think he hated marriage so she would be surprised…but then, Monica turned the tables on him. Even if you’re traditional in your romantic tastes, the way Monica begins the proposal and then Chandler finishes it is perfect. Then, there is the beautiful, candle-lit setting to enjoy. If you don’t tear up watching this scene, you better get yourself medical attention!
After the Wedding
Monica supported Chandler when he finally decided to change his job for a career he really wanted. Then, after Ross and Rachel had their baby, Monica’s desire for children came to the fore of the storytelling. This is something she has expressed the entire series, so to see Chandler come on board for that dream was sweet. It solidified them as a team. Then, they had fertility issues, providing angst and then ultimately joy. Their adoption storyline was a beautiful and authentic arc for them.
As they navigated the anticipation of becoming parents, Monica and Chandler also bought a house. They were moving out of the New York City limits the show made so familiar and starting a new chapter in their lives. It was the exact right place to position these characters for the series finale.
Perry and Cox always worked so well together, too. By far, my favorite thing about Chandler and Monica is that the writers never broke them up, which is rare on television. And, to me, that’s why Chandler and Monica work.
Friends is streaming on HBO Max.