The 19 Best Advice Columns & Podcasts (Active in 2017)
A big part of the reason Hannah and Matt "Know It All" is because there are a handful of phenomenally keen, hilarious writers and comedians in the world of advice-giving who have inspired the podcast that we do; each Monday, we host a weekly homage and re-answering of our favorite advice questions from the below columns and podcasts that are still active in 2017. If you love the advice world as much as we do and want a weekly dose of all the hits with two fresh takes, check out Hannah and Matt Know It All on iTunes or sample the latest episode below.
Are we missing any of your favorites or is there something you'd love to hear us discuss? Email us! We'd love to give your favorites a try and they may end up on our list (and if you're seeking advice from Hannah and Matt, you can email us directly or send us your questions anonymously if you prefer).
Anna Faris is Unqualified
- Where to Find: Unqualified (Podcast)
- How to Ask: Contact 'Anna Faris is Unqualified'
- Who to Ask: Anna Faris, Sim Sarna
- One of our Favorites: Episode #83 Stan Lee
- Book(s): "Unqualified"
Why We Love 'Anna Faris is Unqaulified'
Matt: Faris's dulcet tones and propensity for interviewing will have you thinking she missed her true calling as an NPR radio host (though I suppose if Alec Baldwin can have it all, why can't she?). But in that alternate reality, we might not have an advice show that plays host to mega-star celebrity guests who join in on the advice giving fun during the back half of the episode. Faris and her guests may not have Psychology degrees, but I'd argue that there are few better groups of professionals than actors—whose job it is to put many unique experiences on display and evoke empathy in their audience—to offer valuable advice.
Ask A Manager
- Where to Find: Ask A Manager (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Ask a Manager
- Who to Ask: Alison Green
- One of our Favorites: I Walked in on Employees Having Sex — And I Think There’s a Sex Club in My Office
Why We Love 'Ask A Manager'
Hannah: Ask A Manager is the perfect mix of entertainment and spot-on career advice. Alison Green's expertise as a hiring manager is a great resource—reading her advice has been an invaluable career tool for me, and I have no qualms counting the time I spend reading this site as "professional development." Come for the no-nonsense career advice, stay for the insanity, however: nothing can make you feel better about the dysfunctions of your own workplace like reading a roundup of the year's worst bosses from AAM! Alison's balance of pragmatism and willingness to express shock and horror when something is far outside of the realm of acceptable makes her required reading for anyone who has a job, full stop.
- Where to Find: Chicago Tribune, Various Others (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Ask Amy
- Who to Ask: Amy Dickinson
- One of our Favorites: Co-Worker's Emotional Affair Interferes With Perfect Marriage
Why We Love 'Ask aMY'
Matt: We've been long-time fans of Amy Dickinson, having first discovered her many years ago from listening to NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me. In particular, her many scandalized interjections which channeled all of us listeners made her a valuable touchstone and voice of sanity for my early appreciation of the show. That incisive wit, expert brevity, and proficiency at getting straight to the disturbing heart of the matters at hand really shines in her advice column in which she shows us each and every day why she's one of the greatest at the advice-giving game.
- Where to Find: A Practical Wedding (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Ask APW
- Who to Ask: Liz Moorhead
- One of our Favorites: Am I a Bad Friend If I Can’t Afford a $15,000 Bridesmaid Dress?
Why We Love 'Ask APW'
Hannah: I started reading A Practical Wedding when I was planning my own wedding back in 2012, but the relationship advice from Ask APW spans the whole range of life, from pre-engagement to post-marriage. Team Practical takes on all the things that we're taught we aren't supposed to talk about: the costs of weddings (and attending them), difficult family dynamics, handling queer identities in a heteronormative social contract, navigating the hard questions that come with a marriage (finances, children, emotional labor), and beyond. They also have a fabulous interactive commenting community who are always willing to share their stories and experiences, their support and advice, and their righteous anger when needed.
Ask E. Jean
- Where to Find: Elle (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Ask E. Jean
- Who to Ask: E. Jean Carroll
- One of our Favorites:
Why We Love 'Ask E. Jean'
Matt: To call E. Jean Carroll "no nonsense" is not quite right; Carroll takes nonsense into her giant hand, grinds its bones to make her bread, and force feeds nonsense bread back to the fools who dared enter her domain. But she's not all Tough Love; Carroll is frequently Jane Austen-ian and poetic in style, and those exclamations tend to read like two drunken English majors lovingly scrawling lines back and forth to each other in a bar's bathroom stall in unapologetically bold sharpie, but I love her all the more for it. For example: "He won't do, Miss Day. One looks askance! Rid yourself of the man!"
Ask Gigi & Dirty Sexy Monogamy
- Where to Find: Miss Gigi Engle (Column), Dirty Sexy Monogamy (Podcast)
- How to Ask: Ask Gigi, DSM
- Who to Ask: Gigi Engle, Mike Fishbein
- One of our Favorites: Why Don't Women Ever Want To Date Nice Guys?
Why We Love 'Ask Gigi' & 'Dirty Sexy Monogamy'
Matt: While some advice columnists labor to exclude personal details and anecdotes to instead be the pointedly objective every(wo)man, Gigi Engle does not shy away from taking on the role of the concerned auntie who knows a thing or two that you are absolutely going to be hearing about—sexy and unflattering details and all. Her candor plays especially well in audio form, and the unfettered intimacy and sex-positivity that has come to define Engle's brand is a framework that Hannah and I both strongly appreciate and aspire to.
Asking for a Friend
- Where to Find: The Nation (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Asking for a Friend
- Who to Ask: Liza Featherstone
- One of our Favorites: How Do I Stop Harassment Without Involving the Police in a Gentrifying Neighborhood?
Why We Love 'Asking for a Friend'
Matt: Growing up, you were probably taught that it was impolite to talk to others about certain topics: salaries, sex, religion—politics. 'Politeness' be damned, Liza Featherstone consistently has some of my favorite questions each week, and much of that is owed to her taking on some of the more extremely-complicated-but-very-relatable troubles that arise from having stark political differences with those in your life whom you may have no means of escape. Her outstanding grasp of intersectionality is on full display, making her one of my favorite writers on the internet period.
- Where to Find: New York Magazine (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Ask Polly
- Who to Ask: Heather Havrilesky
- One of our Favorites:
- Book(s): "How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life”
WHY WE LOVE 'Ask Polly'
Matt: Heather Havrilesky is expertly sincere in a way that invites you into an intimate embrace with her every sentence, which reveal so much personal anguish and triumph. She possesses a few other notable distinctions, including 1) having the longest written answers of anyone else on this list on average, a testament to her passionate drive to leave no dark corner unexplored in tackling very emotionally complex interpersonal issues, and 2) being a loyal envoy of the word "fuck." Indeed, Havrilesky has many fucks to give, and we should all count ourselves very luck for this bountiful fuck harvest.
- Where to Find: Captain Awkward (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Captain Awkward
- Who to Ask: Jennifer Peepas
- One of our Favorites: Weak Female Lead
Why We Love 'cAPTAIN aWKWARD'
Hannah: Oh, Captain Awkward. You are the sweet, understanding slightly older cousin with better social skills and endless patience that every weird kid could have used growing up. Jennifer takes on the questions of folks who are questioning themselves, their worlds, and their relationships with tact and love. While she will occasionally let someone know that they're being a complete idiot, she will still rein in the comments sections when they bandwagon on someone too heavily. This site will lead you to some of the weirder questions on the internet—and some of the most nonjudgmental answers that the askers could have hoped for. Funny, compassionate, and endlessly knowledgable, Captain Awkward is always a good read.
- Where to Find: Washington Post (Column, Live Chat), Various Others
- How to Ask: Contact Carolyn Hax
- Who to Ask: Carolyn Hax
- One of our Favorites: When to Start Talking to Our Sons About Rape and Consent
- Book(s): "Tell Me About It: Lying, Sulking, Getting Fat... and 56 Other Things Not to Do While Looking for Love"
Why We Love 'Carolyn Hax'
Matt: There is at least one very good reason why Hax's innumerable columns produce hundreds upon hundreds of comments and why her weekly chat sessions are brimming with dedicated fans: Hax has been in the advice game for over 20 years, so she's lapped other Malcolm Gladwell acolytes and could in fact be the greatest advice columnist of them all. The sheer volume of questions she covers and has covered—and the consistently unique yet somehow widely relatable nature of those questions—is staggering, and her answers are so concise and enviably astute. As an added bonus, her columns are paired with ex-husband and “relationship cartoonist” Nick Galifianakis's delightfully perceptive comics. There's so much to be in love with here.
- Where to Find: The Guardian (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Dear Mariella
- Who to Ask: Mariella Frostrup
- One of our Favorites:
- Book(s): "Dear Mariella: An Indispensable Guide to Twenty-First-Century Living"
Why We Love 'Dear Mariella'
Matt: Though once voted the sexiest female voice on TV, Mariella Frostrup's written voice is every bit as sexy to word nerds like me; her unique flavor of advice-giving has the thoroughness and curiosity of an essayist as she guides us from the personal into the universal with her deft hand. Blink and you'll miss a valuable mantra to add to your repertoire (for instance: "Read, learn, explore and try to solve the mystery to who you really are"). Even when the questions covered by Frostrup rank relatively low on the scale of eccentricity, her proclivity for profundity makes her column a consistently enlightening read.
- Where to Find: Slate (Column, Live Chat, Podcast)
- How to Ask: Contact Dear Prudence
- Who to Ask: Mallory Ortberg
- One of our Favorites: My Boyfriend Has a Tattoo Rating Every Woman He’s Slept With
Why We Love 'Dear Prudence'
Hannah: Dear Prudence has been a weekly read for me for years and years, long before Mallory Ortberg took over. However, Mallory's ascension to the throne has been an endless delight. The questions you will encounter here tend to be fairly run of the mill in general, but Mallory's charm, quirk, wordplay, and open-mindedness are delightful and refreshing. Though I don't always agree with the advice, I always agree with the manner in which it is related, with that distinctly "Mallory" voice that so many of us came to love at The Toast, her previous web project. While I deeply miss the ladies who brunch and the sardonically put-upon women in art historical paintings, I am glad that I still have somewhere to absorb phrases like "Schrödinger's Lesbian."
Dear Sugar Radio
- Where to Find: wbur (Podcast)
- How to Ask: Contact Dear Sugar Radio
- Who to Ask: Cheryl Strayed, Steve Almond
- One of our Favorites: Friends With Benefits, Foursomes And Other Messy Relationships
- Book(s): "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar"
Why We Love 'Dear Sugar Radio'
Matt: Acclaimed Wild author Cheryl Strayed has famously struggled mightily: she's faced cheating, divorce, the sudden loss of her mother, drug addiction, angst about her sexual identity, and more. Strayed and co-host Steve Almond allow themselves to be very vulnerable and intimately honest in a way that's refreshingly therapeutic. Dear Sugar's "radical empathy" approach is a warmly welcomed addition to my weekly advice workout.
Let Us Sex-Plain
- Where to Find: Time Out New York (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Let Us Sex-Plain
- Who to Ask: Jillian Anthony
- One of our Favorites: I’m Not Sure If I’ve Ever Had an Orgasm
WHY WE LOVE 'Let Us Sex-Plain'
Matt: Dating advice by and for New Yorkers is obviously relevant to my interests, and it's all the more welcome coming from expert straight-shooter Jillian Anthony. Our stalwart wingwoman deals in emphatic affirmations and indignant rebuttals with a constant sharp wit expressed in tantalizing wordplay and absurd-yet-fitting pop culture metaphors. But even if Anthony weren't a kindred New Yorker and punner, I'd still very much be in love with her work for heralding sex positivity, consent, reciprocation, communication, and every other essential foundational element of a good romantic relationship. The bottom line is that Let Us Sex-Plain and the surrounding Time Out New York Sex & Dating articles are extraordinarily useful resources, and I highly recommend adding Anthony and co. to your routine reading list.
Read More Let Us Sex-Plain ▶
- Where to Find: Boston Globe (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Miss Conduct
- Who to Ask: Robin Abrahams
- One of our Favorites:
- Book(s): "Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette"
Why We Love 'Miss Conduct'
Matt: Robin Abrahams has a PhD in Psychology and she's not afraid to use it. Where she shines brightest among the advice giver stars is with her patient considerations of the multiple conflicting points of views of the question askers and the subjects of those askers. But no one could be a celebrated veteran in the advice column world with thoughtful psych evaluations alone, and it's those moments when Abrahams lowers her proverbial glasses and drops a deadpan zinger (and a series of very politely-worded insults) that make her entertaining as well as helpful and live up to her column's namesake.
My Brother, My Brother and Me
- Where to Find: Maximum Fun (Podcast), Seeso (TV Show)
- How to Ask: Contact My Brother, My Brother and Me
- Who to Ask: Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy
- One of our Favorites: The Anxiety-Free Cruise
Why We Love 'My Brother, My Brother and Me'
Matt: "The McElroy brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed." This is the paradoxical warning preceding every episode of the MBMBaM podcast. So what makes someone an advice-giving expert, anyway, if not producing hundreds of advice-giving episodes (however goofy) and landing a TV show? The brothers may not have crafted their resumes to tell the story of "Professional Advice Givers," but they've absolutely labored to be better, more understanding, more loving, more hilarious, more inclusive, more "yes"-to-everything human beings in a way that they lead their enormous fan base by laudable example. I love these sweet sweet boys and everything that they touch.
- Where to Find: Reddit (Forum)
- How to Ask: Post on r/relationships
- Who to Ask: Redditors
- One of our Favorites: My [24F] bestfriend [24M] told me that my past relationships didn't work because I like sex too much
Why We Love 'r/relationships'
Matt: Reddit's Relationships forum has two very distinct advantages to your traditional advice column: 1) Anyone can play the role of advice giver, and those answers are voted on and the best advice can rise to the top, and 2) the question asker can interact with the question answerers, providing additional details and even updates on developments in the story, so there's typically less ambiguity or misinterpretations. Another distinction is that the demographic range covers so many unique groups of people and a wider range of relationship topics than what you'd likely see one advice columnist cover. This is one of my personal favorite sources.
Savage Love & Savage LoveCast
- Where to Find: The Stranger (Column), Savage Lovecast (Podcast)
- How to Ask: Contact Savage Love
- Who to Ask: Dan Savage
- One of our Favorites: The Trump Talk
Why We Love 'Savage Love' & 'Savage LoveCast'
Matt: Savage is no Stranger to Love. He knows the game, you can't deny. If commitment's what you're fearful of, Savage will encourage you to sleep with all the guys. He cuts through the nonsense of your feelings. He's crass and takes a forceful stand. He's always trying to help you fuck; he cites those with great renown. Savage really gets around to fight for you. Whether you have an STI, or you've discovered you're bi, Savage Love won't vilify or mock you.
- Where to Find: New York Times (Column)
- How to Ask: Contact Social Q's
- Who to Ask: Philip Galanes
- One of our Favorites: Why Can’t My BFF and My New Boyfriend Get Along?
- Book(s): "Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries, and Quagmires of Today "
Why We Love 'SOCIAL Q'S'
Matt: In my experience, the most common flavor of advice question boils down to this: "I already know what I'm supposed to do, but is there a way I can do this less awkwardly, maybe?" To that end, Philip Galanes's niche of 'lighthearted advice about awkward social situations' in fact gets to the heart of nearly all advice questions in an attempt to diffuse the awkward; the many situations he tackles are ones that I may not have precisely found myself in yet but am likely to, and reading Social Q's makes me feel like I have hundreds of special-occasion aces hidden up my sleeve for whatever may arise.
But don't just take our word for it; others have done a great job of shining a well-deserved spotlight on the above advice columnists and beyond, including those from yesteryear. Here are a few we'd like to shout out:
- 5 Internet Advice Columnists Who Give Better Advice Than Your Mother by Crissonna Tennison
- The New Generation Of Agony Aunts Transforming The Advice Column by Claire Fallon
- Mallory Ortberg’s Favorite Advice Columns by Mallory Ortberg
- The 10 Best Advice Columns Online Today by Rachel Rayner
- The 5 Best Female Advice Columnists on the Internet by Kait Fowlie
In closing, here's Heather Havrilesky auguring what would become the inevitable advice column about advice columns just to keep them all straight: