653 episodes

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a guest to explore a question or topic that matters. From the the state of democracy, to the struggle with depression and anxiety, to the nature of identity in the digital age, each episode looks for nuance and honesty in the most important conversations of our time. New episodes drop every Monday.

The Gray Area with Sean Illing Vox Media Podcast Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 10.2K Ratings

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a guest to explore a question or topic that matters. From the the state of democracy, to the struggle with depression and anxiety, to the nature of identity in the digital age, each episode looks for nuance and honesty in the most important conversations of our time. New episodes drop every Monday.

    Fareed Zakaria on our revolutionary moment

    Fareed Zakaria on our revolutionary moment

    Is it possible that we are living through one of the most revolutionary periods in human history? CNN’s Fareed Zakaria believes that we are and argues that the convergence of AI and the global backlash against liberal democracy are upending political orders around the world. He joins Sean to talk about how this period relates to history’s most impactful revolutions, both political and technological. 
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    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Fareed Zakaria (@fareedzakaria). His new book is Age of Revolutions.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


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    • 45 min
    Life is hard. Can philosophy help?

    Life is hard. Can philosophy help?

    Philosophy may seem like a theoretical or abstract discipline in which unanswerable questions are debated to the point of tedium. But MIT professor Kieran Setiya believes that philosophical inquiry has a very practical and applicable purpose outside of the classroom — to help guide us through life’s most challenging circumstances. He joins Sean to talk about self-help, FOMO, and midlife crises. 

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Kieran Setiya. His book is called Life is Hard.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


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    • 51 min
    The American dream is a pyramid scheme

    The American dream is a pyramid scheme

    Jane Marie is an expert in American b******t. Her podcast The Dream explores life coaching, wellness, marketing, and other fraudulent industries and exposes their exploitative practices. Her book, Selling the Dream, takes an even closer look at multilevel marketing schemes like Amway and Herbalife and gives historical context to this multibillion-dollar — and distinctly American — enterprise. 

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Jane Marie. Her podcast is The Dream and her book is Selling the Dream.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 46 min
    The chaplain who doesn't believe in God

    The chaplain who doesn't believe in God

    As a non-believer, Devin Moss never thought he would become a chaplain or a spiritual adviser, much less one who counsels hospital patients with terminal illnesses and inmates on death row. Devin joins Sean to talk about his improbable journey, the death penalty, and the role of religion in an increasingly secular society.

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Devin Moss. His podcast is The Adventures of Memento Mori. 
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 48 min
    Can a friend be our most significant other?

    Can a friend be our most significant other?

    Journalist Rhaina Cohen believes that modern culture undervalues friendships and discusses the ways in which deep friendships are distinct from but no less meaningful than romantic partnerships. 

    Guest host: Sigal Samuel (@sigalsamuel)
    Guest: Rhaina Cohen (@rhainacohen). Her book is The Other Significant Others. 
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 50 min
    The power of climate fiction

    The power of climate fiction

    Stephen Markley’s novel, “The Deluge,” is an ambitious and terrifyingly realistic look at our collective future on a warming planet. He joins Sean to talk about the 10-year process of writing the book, the current political struggle over climate action, and how we can confront and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Stephen Markley. His book is “The Deluge.”
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
10.2K Ratings

10.2K Ratings

McNafty ,

Thank you!

What you are doing is so important! I just listened to the episode “The American Dream is a Pyramid Scheme” and I was just flabbergasted at the truth you were spitting. Thank you for telling us the truth about really important issues. And that episode led me to Jane Marie and her Podcast “The Dream” — which again, incredibly essential and challenging reporting. Thank all you journalists doing the hard work of investigating and reporting on the bad guys.

portlanding ,

Only a couple in, but really enjoying!

For fans of Plain English looking for something a little more philosophical, this is the podcast for you. It’s a small thing, but I like Sean’s pace and cadence with questions. Not too rapid fire.

Wojciech_ ,

My favorite podcast period

I value this podcast more than any other I listen to. The breadth and depth of selected topics are unparalleled. I’m only glad Sean stopped asking the listeners to email him because I did and never heard back 😂

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