“Hi, I’m Adam Conover, and this is Adam Ruins Everything”


Max Yanacek, Entertainment and Graphics Editor

While truTV is already very different from other television channels, Adam Ruins Everything stands out. It is a show completely different from any other on the truTV channel, taking something close to an educational approach.

TruTV embraces its distinctness through its slogan “Funny because it’s tru:” a play on words referencing its unique style of humor. Adam Ruins Everything fits the style well, just not in the traditional truTV way.

While shows like Impractical Jokers and The Carbonaro Effect rely on public reactions to the stars as they are recorded with hidden cameras, or other shows are completely focused on relatable comedy with minimal plot, Adam Ruins Everything gives just as much attention to learning as it does to humor.

Starring comedian and writer Adam Conover, Adam Ruins Everything is a show all about breaking misconceptions.

The show began as a short series on the CollegeHumor website with an almost identical format, only increased in quality when airing on TruTV in 2015 and, later, some episodes on Netflix.

Each episode begins with Conover interrupting the day of an unsuspecting character, living one or more of the three misconceptions the show will continue to debunk. As Conover tells this person more and more about the darker sides of the subjects, his or her previously high opinion is ruined, hence the title Adam Ruins Everything.

The victim of Conover’s “ruining” makes hopeless attempts to evade him while they are bombarded with facts relating to the episode’s topic.

Eventually, when the subject is thoroughly ruined, Conover conveys his “positive takeaway” by showing the good and suggesting methods of improvement; he expresses that “it is always better to know.” In the end, the viewer and the character dragged along for the ride are given a new outlook on the topic and some ways they can personally help.

This plot is systematically repeated for every episode, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Although plot is normally important for most TV shows, Adam Ruins Everything puts its focus on what is in between the plot points: the facts and, of course, the humor.

The amount of research that goes into each episode is evidently enormous. Practically every other line spoken by Conover (including for some completely unrelated topics) and the numerous experts is accompanied by a citation in the upper-right corner of the screen. Conover references studies and articles for nearly every point he makes and offers a full list of sources on trutv.com.

These sources are essential for the success of the show. Any TV show can spit out facts, but Adam Ruins Everything presents them in a professional and credible way.

The narrative, however, intentionally ignores this professional style.

Constantly embracing his generally unpopular education-centered personality or raving about his hair and pocket squares, Conover’s character is hilariously corny. Similarly, the show continually references his magic powers (normally depicted with unconvincing special effects) that are used for “learning purposes only.” These powers allow Conover to travel through time and teleport to locations where whatever he talks about is comedically acted out. This deliberate dorkiness adds amazing amounts of entertainment to the show and proves that learning does not have to be serious.

The jokes squeezed in between the facts fit into Conover’s style well. Most are clever and witty, and many require smart thinking or sometimes even historical knowledge to fully understand. Despite a repetitive plot, new jokes, facts, and topics make every episode feel very different.

One of the highlights is Conover’s tendency to break the fourth wall by speaking directly to the viewer and acknowledging the existence of his TV show. While most other shows attempt to immerse the viewer to the point where they forget they are watching fiction, Adam Ruins Everything will not let them forget it. Differences like this make the show feel so refreshing; it acts so much like a TV show that it no longer feels like one.

All of these traits combine into making a very different but engaging TV show. Adam Ruins Everything presents learning in a humorous way that is different from almost anything else. It appeals to those who enjoy learning about misconceptions and then gets them hooked on the humor, and, similarly, it appeals to those who enjoy witty (but sometimes corny) humor and then gets them hooked on the facts.

Adam Ruins Everything is a truly addicting show that leaves the viewer eager to hear what Conover will say next, whether it is an interesting fact or a clever joke.