Reviewing: Dear Hank & John

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Ever since I finished the second season of Serial, I’ve been looking for a new podcast to keep me company on my commute. I first turned to This American Life, also produced by NPR. I was intrigued by this podcast because it features lots of different, true stories surrounding one topic. It took me a minute to get into this because it was a little jarring to have so many different stories and voices in one episode, as I was used to the singular focus of Serial.

However, there were some that I found extremely interesting like the one about different prom experiences and one about the phony Spy Moms. However, it is still kind of hard for me to commit to the podcast because of how much it jumps around. I tend to just read the descriptions and pick and choose what I’ll listen to — although the singular topics tend to be my favorite.

With all of this being said, it would seem counterintuitive that I would like a podcast like Dear Hank & John. But I do, I really love it.

Hank and John Green are brothers and new-media creators who got their start on Youtube with their show Vlogbrothers, in which each brother made a weekly video addressed to the other. The two usually discuss major topics like the economy and current events, as well as  lighter subjects like dog ownership and jokes. They also host a variety of other online projects such as Crash Course and Sci Show, and they also host the annual Youtube and new media convention, VidCon.

So, it would follow that their podcast Dear Hank & John, would mimic their videos in both seriousness and hilarity. At the beginning of each podcast, John recites a poem to start off the episode, which is followed by the two answering questions and debating about topics submitted from viewers. At the end of each episode, the two deliver the latest news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon.

I think this podcast is particularly enjoyable if your familiar with John and Hank in terms of their presence on Youtube, because I think otherwise I wouldn’t really be into it if I hadn’t watched them for years before. What I really enjoy about this podcast is the intelligence of the questions and the in-depth nature of the brothers’ answers. John and Hank are so articulate and always bring a level of objectivity when confronting serious topics. However, they still present their opinions and the reasons they stand behind those opinions in such a succinct and well-thought out way that I am often swayed by their arguments.

The podcast has covered simpler topics that really reflect the average fan of the Vlogbrothers: pre-teens through college students seeking advice about school, college, first impressions and the like. However, there are still many questions that reach a higher, more intense level, with subjects like how to grieve, how to deal with chronic pain, success and failure, and global issues like disease and attempted colonization in third-world countries. There are also moments when listeners will ask educational questions about things like the bee crisis and how to vote, which have been extremely informative for me. This is really where John and Hank shine because they are inherent educators, whether it is about specific, scientific questions, existential philosophy, or just how to navigate the various rites of passage and requirements of simply living life. I often find myself continuing the conversation in my own head with my own thoughts and opinions about the topics — so it is definitely perfect for distracting your mind on long drives.

I also love that this podcast is categorized as comedy. Despite some of the more intense and morbid topics, I think this is the perfect category for such a podcast.

I definitely recommend this as required listening for Nerdfighters, and if your new to the Green brothers, I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for intelligent conversation regarding a variety of topics including the serious and the silly.

What do you think of Dear Hank & John? How do you think the podcast adds or compliments the Green brothers’ other online projects? What are your favorite podcasts? Let’s talk. 

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