This past week, daytime television lost one of its greats with the death of legend Agnes Nixon at the age of 93. Best known as the creator and head writer of All My Children and One Life to Live, Nixon also wrote for other popular soaps, including Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World. Her legacy is impressive. She introduced us to iconic characters like Erica Kane (played by the equally iconic Susan Lucci), and she was on the forefront of tackling social issues on television, including abortion, the anti-war movement, homosexuality, and AIDS. Most of all, she breathed new life into world of romance, proving there is no one right way to tell a love story. She was a trailblazer, who paved the way for many of the shows, storylines, and characters we know and love today. If it wasn’t for her, many of the ships I cover every week in this column may not exist in the television landscape.
On a personal level, I credit Nixon and her shows as one of the reasons I started writing and falling in love with the world of shipping. As a child, I sat beside my grandmother every afternoon in the summer, mesmerized all the love stories, dramas, and heartbreaks of All My Children and One Life to Live. I would even set up my VCR to record them during the school year, so I could watch them at night. I learned what it meant to ship a couple hard, developed serious crushes on several actors and characters, and was inspired by the strong smart women of these shows who may have been knocked down but always got back up. Many of these ships are still very close to my heart, and many of my favorite actors are the ones I first discovered through these shows.
As a writer, Nixon gave me some of the greatest lessons on the craft I could ever learn. She taught me what it took to create characters and couples audiences would want to root for, what it meant to humanize things that were considered taboo, what it meant to take risks with a plot, and that the heart of any story is truly it’s characters. I learned about pacing, how to create payoffs that really matter, and about the difference between a necessary scene and a filler one. Now, at twenty-seven, many of things I learned from these shows as kid are some of the most valuable one I employ on the page today.
In honor of this iconic woman and incredible legacy, I dedicate this week’s Shipping Saturday to Agnes Nixon. May her legacy live on in the stories and ships she has given to us over the years. She will truly be missed.