If Drake is the guy from Tinder you stopped dating after one too many double texts, Ross Geller is the college ex who rings after one too many drinks. Two men, one cloth — a fabric tempered by an excess of emotional sensitivity and longing for love.
Ross, we know, was slinging sap back in the 90s when we first met him as a young divorcee in New York, pining after Rachel Green (his Courtney from Hooter’s on Peachtree, for Friends illiterates). Already, he’d failed at love, but was back in the saddle for a 10 season long ride.
Ross, obviously engineered to forward the Rachel relationship linchpin of the series, became an amalgamation of Nice Guy tropes as the series progressed. The paleontologist and father checks all the boxes — he resents friend zones, falls in love easily, pines for true love, never intends to injure, and really, really wants to make it work. He’s also kind of whiny.
However it happened, Drake came to be characterized the same way. Maybe it was as far back as “Marvin’s Room” that we realized the rapper had a sensitive side, but the image has stuck to the point that Drake has deployed Momma Graham in defense (side point: worrying that people think you cry too much is a very Ross thing to do. See “The One With Ross’ Sandwich”). Lyrics like “I realize I waited too long, but please don’t move on,” “Just throw up while I hold your hurt back,” and “I’m willing to work it out however long it takes you,” only fuel the feelings fire and would serve as perfect lines for a 20th century rebooted Ross. Public service memes like “Don’t Drake and drive or you’ll end up at your ex’s house” warn more stoic men to avoid catching feelings and only solidify the rapper’s sad standing. Both men — one real-ish and one fake — have become caricatures.
They’re both also really into women and despite different approaches — Ross, handwringing and anxious; Drake, disillusioned and sad — have similar views of the fairer sex.
On friend zones:
When Joey tells Ross he’s the mayor of the friend zone, because he waited to long to tell Rachel about his feelings, Ross says, “I’m taking my time, all right? I’m laying the groundwork. Yeah. I mean, every day I get just a little bit closer to…”
Drake is also just biding his time with Nicki. When that’s over, he’s first in line.
In the early days of the Ross/Rachel love warp, the former implies that he keeps his feelings secrets over fear of rejection. Drake, on the other hand: “I pop bottles because I bottle my emotions.”
Remember (or try to forget) when Ross became so suspicious of Rachel’s relationship with Mark that he slept with another woman, confident Rachel was also cheating? Ross probably asked himself “What happened between us that night? It always seems to trouble me.”
Drake “don’t trust these hoes” either. The rapper in ‘Lord Knows’: “So I’m going through phone is she does to the bathroom / And her purse right there, I don’t trust these hoes at all / But that’s just the result of me paying attention. If Rachel had a cellphone during the Mark era, Ross would have been all up on it. There’s also: “I tried to keep us together, you were busy keeping secrets.”
On their love interest’s happiness:
Drake is scared that “every girl [he] care[s] for will find a better man and end up happier in the long run.” After Ross is dumped by his lesbian first wife and baby mamma, he tells the crew “I’ll be fine, really, you guys. I hope she’ll be very happy.
On settling down:
Ross says, “I don’t want to be single. I just want to be married again” after his first divorce. Drake isn’t so ready to settle down, but he does hate sleeping alone and has a dream girl in mind for when he’s ready. He’s also a fan of commitment: “I got one girl, and she my girl, and nobody else can hit it.”
On the bro code:
Ross slept with Chandler’s one time lover, Janice, so all bets are off in the bro department. All Drake has to say is: “My ex is fucking one of my rapper friends,” and he doesn’t seem too happy about it. But maybe sharing’s cooler than we thought with the rapper. More recently, in “6 God”: “She ain’t fuckin’ with you niggas / And just like every single other thing in my life / You can have her when I’m finished.”
There’s subtler similarities too. Sure they’re both Jewish, bearing a sort of resemblance with sometimes scruffy jaws not so much weak as wilting, but they also both believe in good friends, and leather.
On a tight crew:
Drake: “I still ride with my day one niggas, I don’t really need / No new friends, no new friends, no new friends, no, no new / I stay down from day one so I say / Fuck all y’all niggas except my niggas.” Ross, of course, has Rachel, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, and Chandler.
Drake grew up there; Ross ended up there after riding the train too long.
This lyric, “I got bath water you could soak in, things I could do with lotion” is obviously about leather pants so far as Ross is concerned. Drake has a pair or three as well.