TV Picks: 'Adam Ruins Everything'
The CollegeHumor Web series jumps intact to television, but with higher production values, built-out characters, a bigger cast and a longer running time. Like "Drunk History," another Internet import, it fills the half-hour by presenting what online would be three separate episodes -- and there were only ever four online episodes as far as I can tell -- and tying them together thematically; this series adds a kind of narrative throughline, in which host Adam Conover appears unbidden, like an annoying guardian angel, to "reveal the awful truth about a beloved part of your world" to a horrified Emily Axford and generally to harsh her mellow. The first episode concerns giving, and how you are doing it wrong, with segments on diamond engagement rings (a "tradition" invented by De Beers to move more diamonds), a remake of the first Web episode; Tom's Shoes' sell one/give one policy (clothes donations destroy Third World local business, also there is no Tom); and canned food drives (much of it thrown away, doesn't meet basic nutritional standards, better to give money). Informational sources (sometimes old enough to give pause) are shown onscreen. Experts are produced, like Marshall McLuhan in "Annie Hall." Conover, who with Emily Heller ("The Future with Emily Heller") also hosts Fresh Out! LA, a standup showcase the UCB Sunset theater, has a kind of Puckish charm; Axford is a winsome, plucky foil (which is to say, she doesn't finish the episode in a state of existential despair). The show is funny and fast and informative, though (in its own spirit) you shouldn't necessarily take its myth busting as final, but rather as a spur to continue researching on your own. Adam would approve.