Remember when not watching TV was something to boast about? It was never exactly true, of course, not if you counted sitcoms and documentaries, but there was still some kudos to claiming your mind was on higher things. Those days are over.
Annoyingly, we're currently living in a golden age of American television, so if you want to hang on to your cultural credentials, mentioning the latest Booker winner or Tate exhibition just won't cut it. You have to watch television. Lots of television.
Don't even think about catching the odd episode here and there. When it comes to Homeland and Mad Men and Game of Thrones, you have to plough through every last minute, or risk being branded the sort of philistine who whistles along to Classic FM instead of listening to a whole opera. "The Wire doesn't hit its stride until season three," your friends kindly inform you. "But you have to start from season one to appreciate it."
And so you clutter up your sitting-room with giant teetering Jenga towers of DVD box sets, devoting yourself to Arrested Development with the intense concentration you'd always planned to expend on reading War and Peace. You lock yourself away gorging on True Blood and hooked on Breaking Bad. But you can't get rid of that scratching middle-class guilt. Aren't you supposed to watch TV sparingly?
Still, at least you can see over the top of your Great Wall of Box Sets. Once you learn how to download all your telly, you'll never be able to press the "off" button again.
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