“The show doesn’t advocate for Trump voters, but it respects them,” said Alex Castellanos, a veteran Republican strategist based in Florida. “Apparently, this is still news to people in the entertainment business, that there is an American working class.”
For years, ABC focused on other demographic groups. With series like “The Bachelor,” “black-ish,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Modern Family,” the network’s lineup was notably diverse. But it was also geared toward upper-middle-class viewers, Ms. Dungey said.
By November 2016, ABC was coming off a TV season when it had finished in last place among the four major broadcast networks, with little hope of escaping the ratings basement in the near future. Like other networks, it was also losing viewers to Netflix and other streaming platforms.
The meeting that took place on the morning after Mr. Trump’s surprise victory led the network to reconsider its strategy. Mr. Sherwood summed up what was going through his mind that day: “Given the declines of broadcast television, the year-after-year declines, are we programming in a way that is turning people off?”
In response, ABC decided to back the singing competition show “American Idol” less than two years after it had been canceled on Fox, its original network home.
“We went after it because that’s a show that, fundamentally, is about the American dream,” Mr. Sherwood said. “It’s about a girl with a cowboy hat and a boy with a banjo and people from small towns where music has saved their lives in different ways.”
“Roseanne,” which had its first run on ABC from 1988 to 1997, was another prime candidate for a reboot. It was a top-rated comedy that had won its share of Emmys and Golden Globes — not to mention that the woman who played its title character had become a vocal Trump supporter.