Alternate reality TV
The usual formula of career-based reality TV sees starry-eyed hopefuls audition feverishly to gain access to a crucible of exacting standards and ridiculous challenges, presided over by a trio of judges with years of professional expertise and borderline personality disorder.
Top Dilettante boldly inverts that formula and requires its burnt-out contestants, weary of the demands of their modern and exciting careers, to dabble in areas for which they have no real passion or aptitude. Put up in the Top Dilettante House – a capacious three-storey terrace within walking distance of at least four decent cafés – the contestants are just barely dissuaded from seriously attempting to dash off watercolour sketches, write light verse and perfect pop tunes, compile vaguely flirtatious mix CDs and curate exhibitions of banal streetscape photography.
Points are awarded neither for skill nor effort, but for the degree to which the teams can affect an air of nonchalance about the outcome of each challenge, and indeed the entire show. Contestants who display the least sign of taking any of it seriously will be subjected to amused sidelong glances and raised eyebrows, and anyone with the bad taste to have a tearful emotional meltdown or achieve a searing personal insight will be left in the house, as the subtle scorn of the other contestants is considered punishment enough.