Category: television names
Okay, so the Fashion Police have had their say, praising and pillorying the various gowns and guy clothes on the Golden Globes Red Carpet by designers from Armani to Zak Posen–scrutinizing everything from Charlize Theron’s sparkly headband to Evan Rachel Wood’s Christian Louboutins.
Now it’s time for us Name Police to have our turn. Not that we would ever say anything negative about anyone’s appellation, but we did want to point out some of the award-worthy names we discovered among the cast members and characters in this year’s Golden Globe winning movies and TV shows.
Adriana—Adriana is the beautiful fantasy mistress of artists Braque, Modigliani and Picasso, played by Marion Cotillard, in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. A lovely Italian name that is perfectly at home in English-speaking countries.
Amara—Amara Miller is the 11-year-old actress who plays George Clooney’s precocious daughter Scottie King in The Descendents—her first movie role. Amara is a strong, sweet, stylish name that means “lovely forever.”
Cora—The Rt. Hon. Cora, Countess of Grantham, is the American-born mistress of Downton Abbey, played by the American-born actress Elizabeth McGovern. Cora is a gentle, old-fashioned name that has recently been rejuvenated.
Djuna—Djuna Barnes is one of the real-life Parisienne icons who resurface in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The exotic name, pronounced JOO-na, has long been associated with that early 20th century American novelist, but we can see it being adopted by cutting-edge baby namers.
In a desperate attempt to bond with the teenagers in my family, I have become a devoted watcher of Gossip Girl. And as I take in the adventures of these upper-crusty New York teens, I can’t help but ruminate on their names.
No fewer than five of the actors with major roles have names that are eighties-style upwardly-mobile surname-names, perfectly in tune with the style of the show:
(For the uninitiated, Blake, Leighton, and Taylor are girls, Chace and Penn are boys.)
Two other actors have names in the same vein, but not quite as stereotypical:
Other names that fit this mold, now more commonly heard on twenty-something interns and junior editors and gallery assistants than on babies, include:
The minute I saw that the leading character in the new sitcom Life Unexpected was a young girl named Lux, a bell went off. Does this mean that there will be a slew of baby Luxes (Luxi?)? Will Lux be the new Lexi? Or won’t it have any effect at all in this era of diminished network TV viewing?
We certainly know that some TV characters’ names of the past have had an impact, from Samantha on Bewitched to Alexis on Dynasty to Brandon and Dylan on the old Beverly Hill 90210 to Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Aidan on Sex and the City right up to the female Addison on Grey’s Anatomy.
So what about the current line-up? Though some of these are not strictly speaking new names, here are the somewhat out of the mainstream character names of current (and a few about to launch) shows. Think any of them will make an impression on baby namers?
BREE- Desperate Housewives
DOROTA—The Gossip Girls
KALINDA—The Good Wife
KENSI—NCIS: Los Angeles
NAEVIA—Sparticus: Blood & Sand
SILVER (her last name used as first) 90210
SURA—Spartacus: Blood & Sand
ASHUR—Spartacus: Blood & Sand
CREED—The Office (the real first name of the actor who plays him)
ROWDY—The Deep End
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.
Cowboy names first galloped onto the scene in the 1950s and 1960s, along with the cool Western TV shows and movies of the era. A lot of these were Old Testament names that had not been heard much since, well, since the real Old West. Some of the early choices that launched a trend that’s still going strong:
BARNABY — Wagon Train
FLINT — Wagon Train
JASON — Wanted: Dead or Alive; Here Come the Brides
JEREMY — Here Come the Brides
JOSH — Wanted: Dead or Alive
JOSHUA — Here Come the Brides
LUCAS — Rifleman
MATT — Gunsmoke
SETH — Wagon Train
SIMON — Rawhide
Females and their names were in short supply in the Old West, split between hardy pioneer women and dance hall girls. Their names help you tell which was which:
BIDDIE — Here Come the Brides
CANDY –Here Come the Brides
KITTY — Gunsmoke
Tomorrow: Names for thoroughly modern cowbabies.