What world is this? Well on HBO’s The Leftovers this is THE question of the show. The premise that 2% of the world’s population mysteriously disappear IS the plot. The whole show is a metaphor for our world (aren’t they all?) but instead of mysterious disappearances we “merely” have to deal with the Great Paradox of Death. That is — if there is God etc. and/or a plan for the Universe why would it create these great critters (us) only to let them pass on to compost after so many useful years. It’s counterintuitive to our egos. So in The Leftovers we are seeing a world dealing with the issue of death (as we are) but on top of it they have the Great Mystery that these disappearances occurred in a fashion most closely described in the Christian Rapture but lacking the “logic” that the “good people” would go up and the not-so-good left behind. The Left Behinds i.e. the Leftovers. On top of that the creators of this world have teased us with Felliniesque visions of “other worlds” that may or may not be true where some special people (or very ordinary people — Kevin the Sheriff) get to visit the “other world” that may or may not be the world after death and may or may not be the same “place” that the 2% went.
Not everyone has the patience for all this suspension of belief/disbelief but the key to the show working is that the creators get us to love the characters and care about their decisions. Why is Kevin chosen for special experiences? Why does Laurie go into a cult? What’s going on with tough-as-nails Nora and why does she give away the baby that was mysteriously given to her to love? What convinces tough-as-nails John to become a fake psychic to help people? Why does he think it even helps people? These are people questions not “world” questions per se. And it’s why we watch.