Alibi V.24 No.6 • Feb 5-11, 2015 

Idiot Box

In An Emergency, Shoe Boxes Make Great Shoes

“Hack My Life” on truTV

Hacking: It’s no longer just for computers. Nowadays you can vastly improve your life with crazy household tips known as “life hacks.” Grow an endless supply of onions by replanting those cut-off bottoms you were going to throw away. Never lose the end of a Scotch Tape roll by sticking one of those bread bag clip locks on the end. Pour water out of your sink faucet by using a dust pail as a funnel. Think of these as high-tech “Hints from Heloise.” The damn things are so popular they’ve inspired countless websites (lifehacker.com, lifehack.org, lifetricks.com), way too many Facebook posts from your cousin (“OMG. Use an old CD spindle to carry a bagel!”) and, now, a TV show.

“Hack My Life” has joined the lineup of dubious docureality shows on truTV (“Lizard Lick Towing,” “Storage Hunters,” “Branson Famous”). It’s hosted by nerd icon Kevin Pereira (who’s been floating around the aether since the death of G4TV and “Attack of the Show”) and Brooke Van Poppelen (no idea who she is, but she’s no Olivia Munn). It is, as advertised, a DIY how-to show filled with assorted life hacks: some useful, some dubious. The idea is to save you time and money. Did you know you could use a bag of potato chips instead of charcoal in a barbecue grill? Or that you could build your own portable air conditioner using a Styrofoam cooler, ice cubes and a battery-operated fan. ... Or you could just go to the Walmart down the street and get all the stuff you need for, like, a buck or two.

Co-produced by Tumblr (no, really), “Hack My Life” isn’t what you’d call essential weekly viewing. But you get your money’s worth.

Since life hacks are, by definition, last-second, improvised shortcuts, are any of this show’s suggestions actually practical? No, not really. Odds are you’re never going to be in a situation where you’ve got to clean pet hair off of your couch immediately, and you’re out of lint rollers—but you’ve got a flip-flop handy (which will work OK, apparently). But who knows? Maybe you will one day be confronted with the problem of having to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. If you watched the particular episode of “Hack My Life” that addressed this issue, you might be able to MacGyver your way out of the situation. As a set of practical tips that you can use on a daily basis, “Hack My Life” is slim. As a problem-solving, think-out-of-the-box, poverty-row version of “MythBusters,” “Hack My Life” is amusing enough. (No, you shouldn’t use duct tape to wax your chest.)

Co-produced by Tumblr (no, really), “Hack My Life” isn’t what you’d call essential weekly viewing. But you get your money’s worth. The tips are to the point and are dispensed at a pace that’s fairly breathless. Once you’ve said, “Use a shower cap to cover bowls of food,” you’re pretty much done with that segment. The hosts liven things up by cracking a few jokes every once in a while, but it’s really about packing as many “I never thought of that” ideas into a half hour. It’s not the worst way to pass the time. And if all the stars align, it just might make you the hero of some ill-equipped barbecue somewhere down the line.

“Hack My Life” airs Tuesdays at 8:30pm on truTV.