Adam Conover’s new television series isn’t the first dedicated to the fine art of debunking, but it’s one of the most entertaining.
His “Adam Ruins Everything,” which begins Tuesday night on TruTV, bursts a lot of balloons filled with delusion and misinformation, and it wraps its lessons in the wry humor of sketch comedy. Best of all, Mr. Conover seems especially interested in calling out a certain brand of feel-good liberality that doesn’t draw nearly enough skepticism.
The series is an adaptation of his videos on CollegeHumor.com, and some of the subjects in the premiere have already proved popular there. He leads with a segment on diamond engagement rings, a manufactured tradition that, he tells us, isn’t really all that old and involves a gem whose value is basically a diamond-industry fiction.
“Every week I reveal the awful truth about a beloved part of your world,” he tells the unhappy (fake) couple whose engagement moment he has just intruded upon. He adds, “Just so you know that everything I’m saying is right, I’ll be listing all of my sources on screen.” Which he does.
The episode’s theme is “Giving,” and the giving of engagement rings is only an appetizer. He then takes a close look at a shoe company that says it gives away a pair for every pair sold, and at some of those charitable practices that make people who enjoy comparative abundance feel good about themselves (and, sometimes, their taxes) with very little effort or sacrifice.
Hear what Mr. Conover has to say and you may no longer feel quite so self-righteous when you empty the back shelf of the pantry for someone’s canned-food drive or toss those used clothes into a collection bin. Giving away castoffs, it turns out, ought not be balm for the soul tortured by the guilt of overconsumption. Maybe you can soothe your conscience by donating blood after the next disaster strikes your area? Um, that’s not the greatest idea either, apparently.
A troupe of comic actors keeps it all amusing, and Mr. Conover is a genial provocateur, even if he does plan in future episodes to leave you discomfited over vitamins, purebred pets and whether there’s really anything we can do about climate change.