In the course of your long and varied life there are going to be times when you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth tarnishing your conscience with a lie or listening to someone tell you for the 300th time how much you need to see Breaking Bad (or Mad Men, or Game of Thrones, or anything else that features formally dressed men yelling at each other).

You’ve been meaning to get around to watching it. You’re going to watch it in the near future, almost definitely. But in the meantime you need to bluff your way out of this before anyone finds out you don’t know if Omar from The Wire is a Stark or a Lannister.

There are two trusty statements that should get you through the worst of it; after you’ve delivered them you can safely assume the other person will carry you through the rest of the conversation:

“I think X and Y are more alike than either of them would care to admit,” where X and Y are any given characters on the show you’re referencing. Peggy Olsen and Roger Sterling? Claire Danes and that redheaded guy from the Emmys? Two of the girls from Girls? Doesn’t matter. It works for everyone.

“You know, ______ is really the heart of the series.” This one is a bit dicier than the first, because you always run the risk of accidentally naming the stuck-up ice queen or the disaffected loner, but the rewards are proportionally greater. Wait until someone else has mentioned a character who’s especially vulnerable or loyal to the flawed but beloved protagonist and then make your move, secure in the knowledge that you have another month at least to watch The Big Bang Theory reruns instead of Boardwalk Empire.