Andrew and Chris Cuomo's both heartwarming and hilarious relationship has been a bright spot for television viewers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The brothers' interactions have received a lot of attention during the national emergency, due to 62-year-old Andrew's role as the governor of New York and 49-year-old Chris' reporting on his CNN show, Cuomo Prime Time. Thanks to Andrew making appearances on his younger brother's show, viewers have gotten a bigger glimpse than ever into the nature of their relationship, though the two have always been close despite their 13-year age gap.
The brothers grew up in Queens in New York, with Andrew being the eldest son of his five siblings -- which include sisters Margaret (a prominent radiologist), Maria (a film producer who's married to fashion designer Kenneth Cole) and Madeline (a lawyer) -- and Chris being the youngest child. Politics is in their blood due to their father, the late Mario Cuomo, serving as the governor of New York for three terms and also being Secretary of State of New York from 1975-1978. Their mother, Matilda -- a teacher -- has been a notable advocate for women and children and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2017.
During a press briefing on March 31, Andrew gave insight into how he and Chris were raised together -- particularly, how their late father, who died on Jan. 1, 2015 of heart failure only hours after Andrew was sworn into a second term as governor of New York State, was a tough patriarch.
"My father was always working, so it was always just me and Chris," he shared. "My father was a very strong personality, and my father basically suggested forcefully to Chris that he should be a lawyer. It was a different time and a different place. So, Chris went to law school. God bless him, he quit the law firm, went to work for Fox TV, which is a whole separate conversation in the house, and then worked his way up. He's at CNN. He does a beautiful job."
"If you had said to my father, 'I want to follow my individual star,' he would say, 'You can follow your individual star right out that door,'" he continued.
In a New York Times interview, John Mariano, an aide to their father, talked about the nature of the brothers' relationship growing up.
"The relationship between Andrew and Chris when they were younger was much more a father and son type relationship," Mariano said, recalling how it was Andrew who went with a young Chris to check out a sports car he wanted in 1986. "Mario was governor, he was busy, and Andrew remained very, very close to Chris."
And before their relationship got thrust into the national spotlight, Andrew was already not afraid to rib Chris on-air -- so much so that Jon Stewart highlighted some of Andrew's burns on The Daily Show in 2015. One clip was Andrew disclosing his relationship with the media, namely, Chris.
"Just as a matter for disclosure, I am the smarter, nicer, funnier brother of your co-host," he once told a CNN anchor, as Chris sat by looking completely unamused. "Don't let him say anything mean about me when I get off the air."
"Take a look at that face," Stewart cracked about one of Chris' somber looks as Andrew made jokes at his expense. "That is a face that stopped being amused by this sh** around age six."
Although Chris has largely avoided interviewing Andrew over the years due to their personal relationship, last month, this changed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Andrew's leadership role as the governor of New York, the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases. While Andrew of course gave serious information about the national health emergency, he also couldn't resist once again making jokes about his brother -- particularly, which one of the two broke the rules more growing up.
"You violated the curfew all the time," Andrew told Chris during one of their interviews together last month. "Caused much pain, but that's a different story."
"I don't believe in rules," Chris quipped back.
Chris, of course, can also dish it out just as hard. While complimenting Andrew on the job he was doing during such a scary time, he also couldn't help take him to task for not calling their mother.
"Governor Andrew Cuomo, I appreciate you coming on the show," he began. "I love you, I'm proud of what you're doing, I know you're working hard for your state, but no matter how hard you're working, there's always time to call Mom. She wants to hear from you -- just so you know."
Andrew, of course, couldn't let his younger brother get the last word.
"I called Mom," he argued. "I called Mom before I came on this show. By the way, she said I was her favorite. Good news is, she said you were her second favorite -- second favorite son, Christopher."
Despite the playful fighting, the two couldn't hide their affection for one another.
"Stay strong, stay strong for your people and I appreciate you being here. I love you, brother," Chris said in closing.
CHRIS CUOMO: There's always time to call mom. She wants to hear from you. Just so you know.
ANDREW CUOMO: I called mom just before I came on this show. By the way, she said I was her favorite. Good news is she said you are her second favorite. Second favorite son, Christopher. pic.twitter.com/wogd0oP2tb
Subsequent interactions between the two had viewers who weren't always fans of the Cuomos tuning in to see their hilarious and heartfelt banter. During one interview, when Chris thanked Andrew for coming on the show, the politican quipped, "Mom told me I had to." Later, when Chris poked fun at Andrew's looks, Andrew called him jealous and joked, "My little brother. Don't worry, there's still time, there's still hope for you. One day you can grow up to be like me."
Chris' surprising heartwarming response? "I've tried to be like you my whole life -- look where it got me."
"You're better than me," Andrew replied.
Of course, this being the Cuomo brothers, the conversation quickly devolved when Chris claimed that he was better at him in one thing -- basketball.
"Never. Don't lie ... you never beat me, not once," Andrew shot back, clearly miffed. "Put the money on the table and I'll take you out, and spank you."
Still, before signing off, as always, he made sure to tell Chris he loved him.
But Andrew and Chris' relationship took a more serious turn when Chris shared that he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 31. Andrew tweeted about his brother's diagnosis shortly after, writing, "Stay strong little brother. You are a sweet, beautiful guy and my best friend. If anyone is #NewYorkTough it’s you."
This virus is the great equalizer.
Stay strong little brother. You are a sweet, beautiful guy and my best friend.
"When he told me he had the coronavirus, it scared me," Andrew shared. "It frightened me. Why? Because we still don't know... Because we're talking about my brother. This is my best friend. I talk to him several times a day, basically spent my whole life with him. It is frightening on a fundamental level ... because there is nothing I can do. And this situation is the same for everyone... So yes, I'm frightened for my brother; I'm worried for my brother."
Still, the two have since kept up their playful banter, like when Chris wouldn't let up on asking Andrew if he had plans to ever run for president after getting largely positive reviews for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Andrew was clearly not having it, though he did note, "You’re a great interviewer, by the way," to which Chris responded, "Appreciate it. Learned from the best."
"Christopher is positive for #Coronavirus and is fighting hard," he wrote. "I’m so proud of him for showing New York what this vicious virus looks like and for demystifying it. Love you, little brother."