The man pictured above is Beijing, China resident Gunther. You might be wondering why Gunther appears to be on the set of the hit ’90s sitcom Friends complete with the two leather Lazyboy recliners and over-sized handmade entertainment center owned by Chandler and Joey for much of ten seasons.
That is not a set from the award-winning comedy, however. This is Gunther’s apartment, painstakingly decorated to be nearly identical to that famous Manhattan room. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Gunther attachment to Friends.
However, before you go thinking “Could he BE any more insane?” emulating Friends actually may have been the best thing to happen to him.
In the video interview with i-D in their series Obsessed, Gunther explains that a friend recommended Friends to him when he was feeling pretty down after a painful break-up. After watching through the entire ten seasons, Gunther’s heart was recharged and he was filled with a new sense of purpose.
He set up the Central Perk coffee shop in the Chaowai SOHO center. Oddly enough just across the street from Beijing’s actual Central Park.
The shop was off to a rocky start, but as the popularity of Friends grew in China, and thanks to Gunther’s amazing attention to detail, business has been good.
By the way, Gunther’s name at that time was Du Xin, but it should be plain to see now how he got the new moniker.
And then we have Gunther’s family made up of his wife Rachel and son Joey. Joey’s a sweetheart who’s already got his “How you doin’?” down pat. After that, there’s Smelly Cat, a foosball table table, and Baywatch.
Central Perk also has its share of regulars all with the names of Friends’ characters. Here Chandler explains that regular Chinese television is too full of political messages, so shows like Friends are a welcome change of pace. But knowing good ol’ Chandler, he’s probably just being really sarcastic.
And yes, they apparently do dance around a fountain at night on a weekly basis too.
Normally, we’d question the mental health of someone who chooses to make their favorite TV show into a reality. However, Gunther has managed to build it into a successful business, a happy family, and a pleasant network of friends and acquaintances. Heck, his English even seems to be coming along very nicely.
And to think, when I tried to make my favorite sitcom Cheers a reality, all I got was a lousy case of alcoholism.