Agnes Eckhardt Nixon Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Agnes Eckhardt Nixon 1927–

American television writer and producer.

Nixon is perhaps best known as the creator and head writer for the serials One Life to Live and All My Children. All My Children focuses on young love, and many young adults identify with the characters and their problems. The show has a strong following among college students and has been studied in several college courses.

The plots of both of these shows are realistic, based on Nixon's own experiences. Nixon's work on these serials is also indicative of her originality in both concept and production. Her inventiveness is particularly evident in All My Children. While daytime television programs are usually produced at considerably lower expense than nighttime television, nighttime production quality was introduced on this series when Tom and Erica's honeymoon was filmed on location in St. Croix.

Nixon began her career as a writer for Irna Phillips, whose traditional soap opera formula dominated the airwaves for more than thirty years. Nixon has updated this formula to include relevant social issues and, as she says, "compelling, believable characters the audience can identify with." She believes "that the way to entertain women is to make them think," and she often takes an instructive approach in her stories. She wrote a segment for The Guiding Light which dealt with the Pap test, informing women about uterine cancer. Nixon was also one of the first writers to provide continuing roles for black characters in her scripts.

Nixon has shown consistent determination to upgrade the standards of daytime drama. The quality of her work and the popularity of her shows has earned her the title "queen of the soaps." Her influence is noticeable throughout daytime television as an increasing number of writers adopt more realistic formats for their shows.