Idiot Box: “Adam Ruins Everything”

“Adam Ruins Everything” On Trutv

Devin D. O'Leary
3 min read
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After years of useless “true” docureality shows like “South Beach Tow,” “Lizard Lick Towing,” “Hardcore Pawn” and “Breaking Greenville,” truTV may have actually come up with its first genuinely true and legitimately compelling series, the educationally minded, entertainingly mounted “Adam Ruins Everything.”

“Adam Ruins Everything” started out life as a web series on the CollegeHumor website. Host Adam Conover is a standup comedian with a background in sketch comedy and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Bard College. He’s taken that questionable résumé and spun it into one irresistibly snarky concept for a show. On the surface “Adam Ruins Everything” is a variation on Penn & Teller’s old Showtime series “Bullshit!” Each episode of the show shines a light on a particular set of popular false impressions and trends, debunking everything from engagement rings to Tom’s Shoes. Whereas Penn & Teller could get genuinely apoplectic about their topics, Adam is rather smartly bemused. An obviously intelligent dude, he comes across like the wiseacre little brother of nerdy “Good Eats” host Alton Brown.

What makes Adam’s show so credible is the fact that it’s peppered with, well, facts. Adam’s motto is, “Sorry I used facts to explain why you were wrong.” The host frequently cites his references with on-screen footnotes showing exactly where the information came from. Feel free for read more if you like. You can even go to the show’s website for additional info. The show’s tear-apart of the diamond industry is littered with historical truths, while its takedown of the credit card business is filled with scary details (i.e. signing a credit card receipt is a useless security measure designed to make you feel better).

What makes “Adam Ruins Everything” so compelling, though, is the amusing and entertaining presentation. Knowing that humans hate having their illusions shattered, Adam lays out each show as if he were delivering it to a particular group of ordinary, everyday people (newlyweds or car buyers or whatever). These people (actors, really) are shown as generally annoyed at Adam’s nosey, know-it-all personality. Hanging out behind him as he ruins their wedding plans, their understanding of police work or their new car, they express the dismay most folks probably feel: Deep down, we know Adam’s right that engagement rings are a financial rip-off—but we still want one.

“I don’t want anyone to think that this show pretends to present absolute certainty,” Adam has said. Like “Mythbusters,” he welcomes feedback and has already discussed the idea of doing follow-ups based on new information. It’s a remarkably scientific approach to take. And it bodes well for the show’s longevity. Smart
and funny? How can you lose? By balancing education and entertainment, Adam hits the same sort of sweet spot Jon Stewart maintained on “The Daily Show.” I, for one, hope he continues to ruin things for years to come.

“Adam Ruins Everything” airs Tuesdays at 8pm on truTV.

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