Category: baby names from tv
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Let’s face it—most TV character names are predictable and dull. It’s almost as though the screenwriters close their eyes and stick a pin into a list of what seem like age-appropriate monikers—Jim for Grandpa, Jack for Dad, Jackson for Son or Betty for Grandma, Beth for Mom and Becca for Girl.
But luckily there are some exceptions, the creative minority that shine out from the others like glistening gems. The names below are drawn from the character lists of current shows or those that have recently expired—running on a bewildering number of channels—network, cable and online. Reality and animated shows not included.
I’ve starred the names that have already seemed to have had an influence in the real world.
Some of these babies had names that were typical of their eras, while others were newer and more influential. Some of the newborns were allowed to grow up, while others remained babies, some were merely plot devices that quickly vanished. One of the names was important enough to be featured in the show’s title—Hope on Raising Hope.
Here, in rough reverse chronological order, are some of the most memorable TV baby names:
But there’s no such thing as a quiet week in name news. Influences are everywhere, and this week’s announcement of the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award nominees got me thinking about the small screen, and the many names boosted by a TV series.
Of course, it isn’t a straight line. It often takes years to tell which names will have long-term influence, and which will fade away. Kimora and Miley are sliding. Others are holding on strong – Alexis is still solidly established in the US Top 50 decades after Dynasty left the air.
It isn’t that we name our children after television characters, not exactly. And yet the connections are impossible to deny. Could it be that a popular series is one of the best ways to convince parents that a new name is mainstream, and worthy of consideration?
Most of this week’s newsiest names have a link to the small screen:
Today is officially Soap Opera Day (woo hoo!) and though this isn’t as big of a deal in the baby name world as it once was, with a lot fewer sudsers on TV than there were when soap operas were the main staple of daytime programming, we have to acknowledge the influence that they did have in the past—just as powerful as reality show show TV names do today.
This is true both in terms of trends (as in sometimes condescendingly considered “soap opera names” on the order of Thorne and Trent, Blade and Brent, and also place names like Sierra and Egypt, boys’ names for girls) and individual names—the classic example of which is Kayla. It’s highly doubtful that there would have been 16,000 baby girls named Kayla in 1996 if popular good girl Kayla Brady hadn’t appeared on Days of Our Lives a decade earlier. And the same goes for all those Ashleys too.
What follows is a list of soap opera names across three decades that did have some influence—though it sometimes took as long as a decade or two to make an impact (and of course there could be other factors involved)—followed by the year in which they were at the peak of their popularity.
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.