Category: names from television
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.
Last year the world was falling into the icy clutches of the vampires. The Salvatore brothers of L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries were fighting over the beautiful Elena Gilbert, lethally handsome Edward Cullen once again rescued his mortal love, Bella Swann from a gruesome death in the new Twilight movie, Eclipse, and a vampire child by the name of Abby has been terrifying audiences in Matt Reeve’s new film Let Me In.
Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to escape the bite of immortality, but fear not fellow name lovers! There is hope for us mortals yet, a hope that comes in a very furry form.
This Halloween goes to the wolves. The vampire reign is in danger of coming to a close as the popularity of werewolves quickly rises. The vampire-werewolf rivalry is one of the oldest feuds in existence, so it’s no wonder that we humans have been caught in the middle once again. At least the wolves will get the vampires off our backs for a bit. Right?
Okay. You may be thinking that werewolves are just as bad as vampires, but let’s think about this. Unlike vampires who have absolutely no escape from their condition, unless they go a day without sunscreen, werewolves only change during a full moon. So if someone you love is carrying the curse of the Lycan, it’s best to take a little vacation from them once a month. After all, we all need a little me time. Also, werewolves aren’t constantly craving your blood. They’re actually quite normal in human form (I should know because I used to date one), whereas vampires obsess over the sound of blood pumping through your veins. Hence, werewolves are the lesser of two evils.
We’ve always loved the O names and have taken an ever-expanding view of the category since publishing our first name book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, in which we (shockingly, at the time) declared names that end in O such as Theo and Milo to be “So Far Out They’re In.”
Bardo is also a Buddhist concept meaning “intermediate state” – significant, many say, because of Bullock’s marital woes and decision to divorce, announced at the same time as her baby’s adoption.
Wikipedia lists the Six Bardos for those who want more illumination on Bardo, as well as other people and places that have a relationship to the name. In a more earthly realm, David Boreanz named his infant daughter Bardot, as in the surname of French star Brigitte.
Other obscure O names with celebrity connections (how’s that for a nameberry-only subgroup?) include:
Max can stand on its own or may be a short form of the ancient Roman name Maximus, which means “greatest,” or of Maximilian or Maxwell. It’s one of the down-to-earth cigar-chomping grandpa names last popular a hundred years ago and enjoying a huge revival now. Like brothers Sam and Jake, Max is unpretentious and friendly but also sounds cool.
Celebrities led the way in launching the revival of the name, starting in the late 70s and early 80s. Stars who are the parents of now-grown kids named Max include Dustin Hoffman, Henry Winkler, Steven Spielberg, and Nora Ephron & Carl Bernstein.
Once in a while some pop culture phenomenon comes along that doesn’t just reflect the name gestalt of its day, but actually influences it. This was the case with the glossy nighttime soaps of the late 70s and early 80s–most particularly Dynasty—which were all about wealth and greed, ambition, melodrama, campy catfights –and humungous shoulder pads.
The writers on these shows were quite ingenious in the way they came up with names that reflected perfectly those values and vices. Male names that were short, sleek, and powerful. Sophisticated, boyish women’s names like Arliss that were a complete reversal of the previous decades’ unisex nicknamish names like Jodie and Jamie. Elegant surname names such as Blake Carrington.
Probably the most influential was the name of Blake’s ex-wife, that evil viper, Alexis. Despite the character’s villainy, her name took off, and was instrumental in the success of other Alexi: Alexandra, Alexa, Alex et al. In the year before Dynasty debuted in 1982, there were scarcely 1500 girls given that name across the country; by 1999, it had reached #3 on the list, with the birth of 19,000 baby Alexises.