It's been filling up dinner parties for some time, while breaking out over cubicle walls in the workplace. Even a decade ago, though, there was barely a trace of it -- really no need for it.
People might not have watched the "West Wing," "The Practice" or "Malcolm in the Middle" in 2001, but at least the shows were widely known. Now, a group of friends having bantering about TV can leave each other with education and inspiration.
When not commenting on Ricky Gervais' venom during the Globes-cast Sunday, the "never-heard-of-it" banter was energizing rooms. Here's an example:
Presenter gives an award to Laura Linney for her role in Showtime's "The Big C."
Person A: "What a great show. She's unbelievable. Do you watch it?"
Person B: "Never heard of it. What's it about?"
Person C: "By the way, don't you guys love 'Men of a Certain Age'?
Person A: "Huh? Is that a 'Mad Men' spin-off or something?"
Person C: "No, it's awesome, it's got Ray Romano playing ..."
Persons A and B: "We'll have to check it out."
A year later, both are watching more TV, but neither has had the time. There's been too much other engrossing stuff to keep up with. Even the DVR can't keep up.
Broadcast TV may bring reflexive criticism, but there's a decision to be made Tuesdays at 10 p.m. between "The Good Wife" and "Parenthood." People may know little about the former, except something about a wayward New York governor being somehow involved. Or that "Parenthood" is more than a movie.
Pay-TV continues to produce, but the shows aren't exactly in the zeitgeist. HBO no longer has the household names, but the likes of "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Blood" generate rabid fans likely to lobby clueless friends and colleagues about them. After all, if no one watches your passion, who will care about your tweets?
As "The Big C" shows, Showtime is loaded with well-liked originals, but good luck finding 10 people who know the star of "Nurse Jackie." Also, it might not be long before Starz, which has "Spartacus" as an emerging brand, becomes another competitor for share of mind.
Still, when it comes to the "never-heard-of-it" discussions, basic cable sparks the most talk -- and obliviousness. Networks going full throttle with original series since FX launched "The Shield" are the culprits.
FX continues to prompt critical acclaim and audience cloudiness with "Sons of Anarchy," "Justfied" and "Lights Out." So, does USA with "Burn Notice" and "Royal Pains."
Already with "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," AMC seems to be in a constant state of launching expensive new dramas. Same goes for TNT, which has a surging "Rizzoli & Isles" and other entrants to buttress it as "The Closer" ends.
So, even more conversations with a person saying "I love that show" are likely to have that followed by, "Never heard of it."