They're not changing everything abruptly in an attempt to pander, as though pleading for them not to vote Trump next time as long as we keep our promise to make TV shows that aren't all about degenerate cosmopolitans. It's described as more of a shift in tone, toward hopeful and optimistic and away from snarky and cynical. You can smell the feel-good family-friendly sit-coms from here, making the 1980s great again.
This is a good example of how pop culture follows changes in the political and economic realms, rather than the other way around. Andrew Breitbart is frequently quoted to the effect that culture needs to change before politics does ("Politics is downstream from culture.") Here is the summary from a representative post at RedState:
Culture matters. Withdrawing from it is no answer. If you want to change the future of the country, you need to engage the culture and not just expect that the kinds of citizens who vote for your values can be summoned from the hills.
The Trump phenomenon has proven this theory wrong, since he ran exclusively on economic and political topics, ignoring culture (other than to complain about "Why are they remaking Ghostbusters? Are they incapable of making good new movies?"). "Despite" this stance, and despite not altering the cultural foundations of the country, he did indeed summon voters from the hills in Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire.
Losing observers from both sides try to reduce cognitive dissonance by chalking up Trump's popularity to being a reality TV star, which goes to explain why his counterpart in the other party enjoyed his own success against all odds. Trump, like Bernie, achieved as much as he did thanks to his stances on the issues, not on personality or fame.
The entire cultural realm had long been, and still remains united against Trump the man, Trump voters, and the Trump agenda. Bernie had some cultural supporters, but not as big as Hillary did, and they did not cut ads for him or introduce him, as though his young supporters needed their candidate to be validated by cultural figures they already care about.
As mentioned in the post about who puts out conspiracy theories and why, the idea that politics is downstream from culture is part of the conspiratorial worldview. After decades of defeat, Republicans and conservatives began to attribute their failures to the Democrats and liberals invading and taking over the major cultural institutions -- schools, churches, the media -- and using this strategic position to influence or brainwash the general public into believing liberal bromides and voting Democrat reflexively.
How did those people explain the heyday of conservatism during the Reagan years? It's not as though the 1980 landslide against all odds had followed the defenestration of liberals from academia, the media, and the Mainline churches, where they have been in control since forever. It was not an attempt to analyze or explain, but to soothe their pain by shifting the blame to external hostile actors instead of their own smug leadership, sell-out politicians, ossified think tanks, and disgraced cultural figures such as the televangelists of the 1980s.
Returning to mainstream TV shows, which came first -- Nixon's defeat of Humphrey, or the release of All in the Family? Archie Bunker arrived to television a full two years after Nixon's first inauguration. A key demographic in the Nixon coalition was working-class whites who were sick of the excesses of the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, whether these were rural Southern whites or urban white ethnics.
In 1968, both groups had been loyalist Democrats for generations, but the influx of the Civil Rights movement antagonized them enough to defect at least temporarily (for white ethnics) or permanently (for white Southerners).
The Democrats were apoplectic that such large chunks of their New Deal coalition had been so effortlessly poached by the GOP. It couldn't be because the Great Society policies were failures -- it was because... uh, well, let's explore who these Nixon voters are in sit-com format, contrasting them with their liberal Democrat children. Maybe by portraying them halfway sympathetically and "feeling their pain," we can bring some of them back into the fold.
But culture has minimal influence over politics, so no, these groups did not come back to the Democrat party until a generation later with Clinton in '92, after the Bushies had alienated most of the Nixon and Reagan voters.
It was the Democrats' version of thinking that politics is downstream from culture. It's just that the Dems control the media, so they can translate that mindset into cultural change more than the Republicans can when it's their turn to blame culture for their political failures.
Another show in the vein of All in the Family was Family Ties, wherein liberal Jewish media executives tried to explore the nascent conservative and yuppie phenomena, as the liberal Boomer parents struggle to understand their uber-Republican son Alex Keaton. Nixon did not run as a conservative, but as a pragmatist, law-and-order, liberal-moderate. Reagan's landslide was even more unforeseen to Democrats in the media than was Nixon's, and provoked greater panic to figure out what went wrong.
Family Ties debuted nearly two years after Reagan defeated an incumbent Democrat, again showing that culture follows politics and economics. The producers hoped to pull the Alex Keatons at least halfway toward the liberal Boomer generation, but they resisted and remained GOP loyalists -- although it's worth asking if he would have voted for Trump? Maybe. But maybe Alex P. Keaton put yuppie elitism over party loyalty and voted for Clinton. (Many such cases! Sad!)
Since these political re-alignments tend to have a strong geographic pattern, the TV producers have hinted at portraying the lives of people other than coastal elites, and exploring what makes working-class and middle-class whites in flyover country tick.
I looked through Wikipedia's lists of major TV shows set in various states to see when the last time they actually devoted attention to Trump country. It looks like it was after Nixon's first win, and lasting through the Reagan-Bush years. They had taken parts of the Midwest for granted during the New Deal / Great Society years, when so much pop culture focused on coastal cities (or the Old West). Suddenly they became obsessed with the Great Lakes region, and Chicago in particular, to try to figure out who these defectors were.
Chicago plays such a central role because after Democrat loyalty during the New Deal and Great Society eras, Illinois became Republican from 1968 until 1992 -- and they did not do that without the support of metro Chicago. Wisconsin went Republican in '68, '72, '80, and '84. Even Minnesota went Republican by 6 points in '72. Michigan was a little late to the party, but stayed Republican from '72 until '92. Indiana and Ohio were also heavily Republican during this period, but they were not defectors from the New Deal era, when they were still fairly Republican.
Here are the major TV shows set in the Midwest during the Nixon-Reagan-Bush years, where the locals are portrayed sympathetically, there's a strong sense of place, and the regional culture and economy are not sneered at for not being elite and cosmopolitan.
Mary Tyler Moore Show - Minneapolis
Happy Days - Milwaukee
Laverne and Shirley - Milwaukee
Bob Newhart Show - Chicago
Good Times - Chicago
WKRP in Cincinnati - Cincinnati
Roseanne - Chicago
Married with Children - Chicago
Family Matters - Chicago
Life Goes On - Chicago
Family Ties - Columbus
Home Improvement - Detroit (began before Clinton)
Shows from the Clinton era onward, like That '70s Show or Parks and Recreation that are set in Wisconsin or Indiana, feature liberal cosmopolitan elites doing a mocking blackface performance of flyovers, or portraying the liberal cosmo elite-wannabes stuck in flyover country.
The media elites even became interested in the blacks of flyover country (Good Times, Family Matters), which we still haven't seen despite a two-term black President whose political career began in Chicago.
Outside of the Midwest, the liberal media elites tried to understand other newly Republican areas, such as Connecticut. It was more of a swing state during the New Deal and Great Society periods, but was solid GOP from '72 until '92. The hit '80s sit-com Who's the Boss? set up an intercultural dialog between an urban blue-collar Italian from Noo Yawk working as a live-in housekeeper for a suburban professional WASP (portrayed by a Jew) in Connecticut.
The star of that show, Tony Danza, had also starred on Taxi, set in Manhattan during the dingy stagflation era of the late '70s and early '80s. Even when the media elites did cover the Center of the Universe back then, they focused on everyday blue-collar life at work, rather than the conspicuous leisure of cosmopolitan yuppies that began to characterize Manhattan reality and cultural portrayal during the Clinton years and afterward.
So perhaps in the Trump era, not only will we see a more sympathetic portrayal of whites in the Midwest but in working-class coastal areas, too. If the past is any guide, though, don't expect any of this to be visible until about two years into the strange new times. Right now the media elites are still in the denial and anger stages of grief.
If formerly shrill Civil Rights hippies and Jews can make family-friendly WASP-y sit-coms like they did in the Reagan-Bush years, they can change their tune during the Trump years as well. Unlike the Democrat party itself, the creators of pop culture need to appeal to the mainstream, which has now revealed that it doesn't give a shit about conspicuous leisure, elite degeneracy, and identity politics.