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Where the narrative is aimed to function mainly as a conceptual exploration of a quirk's implications, we may expect to see less bolstering as the alterior reality is argued via that exploration; in some cases -- some future and ulterior realities, for example -- the fictive milieu may be argued directly from the start point of a recognisable mimetic milieu.
I have been tired of this sort of thing for years (though I don't think This American Life is so guilty of quirk for quirk's sake), and I kept accusing things of being gimmicky while knowing that was the wrong word.
But it's quirky for quirk's sake, entertaining but not really helpful in expanding the plot.