Dr. Jennifer Dunn, Author of ‘Friends: A Cultural History,’ Interviewed Following Death of Matthew Perry
Dr. Jennifer C. Dunn, professor of rhetoric and public culture and author of Friends: A Cultural History, participated in two recent interviews following the death of Friends actor Matthew Perry.
In a discussion with Chelsea Bird, host of Chelsea on CHED, a Canadian radio program, Dunn spoke about the parasocial relationships fans have with Perry — and the impact his sudden passing has had on them.
“We create these relationships with celebrities, actors or musicians we don’t know personally, but we feel like we do because of the time we spend with them — not just in a fictional world, but when we hear about their real lives as well,” she explained. “The more involved we get with that, the stronger those bonds can be. Losing someone like Matthew Perry, who represents so much to so many people, means people are feeling this more deeply than they would than with someone they didn’t have that connection with.”
Listen to the full interview here.
Dunn is also quoted in the Financial Times article “The One Where Chandler Bing’s Impenetrable Job Defined a Generation.”
Dunn published Friends: A Cultural History in 2019. She was drawn to writing the book as a fan of the show and because, at the time, few books were published about it.
“The book also gave me an opportunity to critique some parts of the show that reveal limitations in representations of race, gender, sexuality, and size,” she noted.
“This show was about becoming an adult, living on your own and figuring yourself out,” Dunn added. “I was the same age as the characters as I watched, and so I related to their journeys. Seeing Matthew Perry’s struggles, when he was on the show and now, reminds me of my own mortality and the fragile nature of being human. I never thought a 90's sitcom would teach me so much about life.”