The kids are back in school and there’s a chill in the air – must be time for the new Fall television line-up! I’ve been listening for character names – bland, bold, and everywhere in between. Last week we discussed Walden, the new roomie on Two and a Half Men. The jury is still out on how the series will fare with Ashton as a co-star, but berries agreed – Walden is a winner of a name.
Even the most high profile shows today attract a fraction of the viewing audience that tuned in just a decade back. That might be good news if you’ve been planning to name your newborn Walden, but it does make me wonder: are the days of television launching new names over? So many great choices, from Allison to Xander, owe their popularity in part to a television character.
Or is the opposite true? You couldn’t name a kid Jed in the 1960s without conjuring up The Beverly Hillbillies. Now that we’re all watching dozens of different shows, maybe it will feel less problematic to borrow a name from a favorite series. Here are a few that caught my eye:
Anders – Comedy Central’s sophomore sitcom Workaholics follows three slacker friends – Adam, Blake, and Anders, known as Ders. Anders ranked #936 in 2010 – that’s pretty obscure, but it is also about the best the name has ever fared. The evergreen Andrew might strike some parents as too ordinary. The character’s nickname, Ders, works for Anders or Anderson.
Bert – No, not like Sesame Street. New series How to Be a Gentleman debuts later this week, and I’m fascinated by Kevin Dillon’s character, named Bert. He’s the laidback personal trainer to a more straight-laced friend. It is something of an Odd Couple set-up, and we know how well Oscar and Felix are doing these days.
Conrad - ABC’s new drama Revenge is modeled on the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo. The main character switches between the familiar names Emily and Amanda. Philandering husband Conrad also appears on the series, and is one of the first targets of Emily/Amanda’s schemes. Conrad feels like a name that’s mostly been overlooked, despite his long history. I also like the Italian version, Corrado, and short form Cord.
Kimantha – A smoosh of Kimberly and Samantha that just might have been invented for a minor character on new ABC series Suburgatory, it makes for the kind of name that television will always give us – current and on trend, but perhaps too extreme to consider in real life.
Maggie – On the other hand, there’s Christina Ricci’s character on Mad Men-esque series Pan Am. No word yet on whether her full name is Margaret – though I suspect that’s the case. These days Maggie stands on her own, right at home with Sadie and Molly.
Minka – Did you catch the new Charlie’s Angels? The trio’s names are pretty tame – Kate, Eve, and Abby. Friday Night Lights alum Minka Kelly plays Eve, and Minka might be one to consider. She’s just a little bit different than Mia or Maya. I’m not sure where Kelly’s parents found her name, but some sources suggest that she’s a Slavic short form of Wilhelmina.
The actress brings us back to the real world. Remember Drew Barrymore’s character in the Charlie’s Angels franchise? Dylan. Yes, on a girl. Australian model Kristy Hinze just gave the name to a daughter, Dylan Vivienne. There’s a new baby girl Dylan in my neighborhood, too. Now that Dylan is falling for boys, will it gain favor with parents looking for the next Madison? (Read the birth announcement here: http://waltzingmorethanmatilda.com/2011/09/21/celebrity-baby-news-kristy-hinze-and-jim-clark/)
Tigerlily – Nook of Names makes the case for Tigerlily, and I have to admit I’m sold. It sounded outrageous when INXS frontman Michael Hutchence gave the name Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily to his daughter in 1996. But with Lily all the rage, and florals in full bloom, Tigerlily sounds wearable today. I’m also captivated by Nook’s list of possible nicknames: Tiggy, Tilly, Ty, and of course, Tiger and Lily, too. I can’t say Tigerlily would make my personal short list, but I fully intend to use her in the next round of a Nameberry Baby Name Game.