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Why Adam Ruins Everything was cancelled

Why Adam Ruins Everything was cancelled
Adam Conover, star of Adam Ruins Everything, the 2015 to 2019 truTV show which you can see on HBO Max (Photo by truTV)

After 65 episodes, Adam Ruins Everything disappeared from truTV. Well, not exactly: reruns keep airing in-between episodes of Impractical Jokers, which fill up the network’s schedule like Ridiculousness does for MTV.

But there have been no new episodes since the series finale, “Adam Ruins Himself,” aired Oct. 1, 2019, and there was also never any acknowledgement from truTV that it was, in fact, the series finale.

So why was Adam Ruins Everything cancelled so unceremoniously? Star and executive producer Adam Conover explained earlier today.

While Adam Ruins Everything isn’t reality or even documentary TV, especially since it had scripted and acted segments, it was terrific nonfiction television, and I learned a lot from it.

Also, when I wrote a story about the show for Pacific Standard, Adam told me that its staff of writers and researchers was “full of reality fans. Literally everyone on our staff was watching The Bachelor while we were writing this episode. It just came from this desire to help the audience think more critically about what they’re watching.” That episode he’s referring to was about reality TV; after I objected to some of its claims, Adam responded in a very thoughtful way.

His series, which began as web videos on CollegeHumor and then became part of truTV’s relaunch as a comedy-focused network, used its humor in an incredibly effective way, one that I learned is more likely to change people’s minds than other kinds of humor, like satire.

A similar show is coming to TV in 2022: Adam said his new Netflix show, The G Word with Adam Conover, is coming later this year, and “a funny, fast-paced look at the power, complexity and shortcomings of” government, according to Netflix.

Why truTV cancelled Adam Ruins Everything

Adam Ruins Everything, Adam Conover
Adam Conover in the Adam Ruins Everything season one episode “Adam Ruins Going Green.” (Image by truTV)

“If you want to know what killed Adam Ruins Everything, monopoly capitalism did,” Adam said in a TikTok video.

That was the big conclusion of his explanation; he actually explained what happened in great detail. Adam starts by explaining that:

We were the second biggest show they had, depending on how you crunch the numbers. That Carbonaro guy did pretty good, too. But we did really, really well. So why would they want to end the show?

Well, here’s what happened in 2018. The giant phone company AT&T bought Time Warner, truTV’s parent company.

When they did that, they did what they always do every time there’s a big mega-merger: they laid a ton of people off. One hundred people were fired from truTV, including the head of the network, the vice-head of the network, the entire programming department, the marketing department—basically, everyone in the entire building was let go and then they started canceling shows to cut costs.

Those layoffs came in May 2019, with truTV president Chris Linn among those who left.

Because Adam Ruins Everything’s staff assumed that would happen, they made their final episode into a series finale:

The writing was on the wall. So we figured, hey, this is probably going to be our last contract. So we turned our season finale into a series finale and we did a big, badass final episode that tied everything up in a bow. It was super meta. It talked about our relationship with the network, and with advertisers. I’m really proud of that episode, and you can still see it on HBO Max.

WarnerMedia’s cleaning out of truTV happened two months after AT&T announced that HBO, TNT, TBS, and truTV were all being folded together as WarnerMedia Entertainment under Bob Greenblatt.

Adam did get a call in November 2019 from the network confirming Adam Ruins Everything was cancelled. He said:

And about a month after it aired, sure enough, they called me up and they said, Hey, Adam, just so you know. We’re not picking up more Adam Ruins Everything. And I was like, yeah, thank you. I figured that out. Don’t worry about it. See y’all later. I’m doing fine.

So how did that WarmerMedia house-cleaning work out? Well, Greenblatt was out of his job less than a year and a half later, when WarnerMedia announced it was “combining original production … and programming capabilities currently spread across Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS and TruTV.”

And less than a year after that, WarnerMedia itself was bought by Discovery, another mega-merger that’s currently in progress, and if approved, will lead to two of the biggest streaming services becoming one, while a bunch of cable channels would all being owned by the same company.

In the video, Adam Conover has thoughts about all of this—well, what happened at WarnerMedia, at least:

I think what this illustrates is how bad mergers between mega corporations really are.

Because—think about this—not only did 100 people lose their jobs, it also turned what used to be an awesome, thriving TV network into a graveyard that just airs old Impractical Jokers reruns. No shade to the Jokers, though; I’m still team Sal.

The problem is when two big companies merge into one, there’s less competition and less competition means less jobs for us to go around and less options for us in the media. So if you want to know what killed Adam Ruins Everything, monopoly capitalism did. That’s the murderer.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Rudy

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

The show was awful. Full of misinformation. That’s why it was canceled. That and the fact that Adam is unlikable.

Jane

Monday 24th of January 2022

I figured that was probably what happened. It's a shame, it was educational and entertaining - like the also canned Drunk History.

Chuck

Monday 24th of January 2022

Well that also explains what happened to At Home with Amy Sedaris.

Mark

Wednesday 19th of January 2022

This could have been reduced to one sentence. "The show was cancel because it wasn't good."

Joshua

Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

@Mark, Well, since that would be patently false information, probably not the angle they wanted to take with this article.

BadMitten

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

Great read :)