What is the trick to getting a recycler view to actually work?

Using a scrollview for long lists of data is not recommended by android best practices, yet the recycler view just does not seem to work. Either it won’t appear at all, appears with the bottom half cut off, or will not load the data. The onendreached event does not fire, and nothing seems to work.

Is there some unwritten rule stating it can be the only component on a page or something?