Category: baby names from tv
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.
Saturday Night Live is at this point a certifiable institution. The show has now been around for 36 years, and over its long run has featured many of the funniest, most creative, offbeat comic talents in America–some of whom have gone on to become so iconic that we’ve almost forgotten they were ever regulars on the show. As in Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr, Bill Murray, Dennis Miller, Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Martin Short and now-Senator Al “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough” Franken.
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.
The Simpsons has been running for twenty-two years now (an all-time record for a TV show), with almost 500 episodes under its belt, episodes crammed with weird and wacky characters, often with names to match, making both regular and one-shot appearances. But it’s the show’s more normal names that make a rich source of TV baby names.
When it came to the lead characters, creator Matt Groening did what many of us do, which was to name them after family members: Homer and Marge Groening are his parents’ names and Lisa and Maggie his younger sisters’. As for Bart (full name Bartholomew Jojo Simpson), that was derived as an anagram of the word ‘brat.’ (Trivia note: Many of the last names were inspired by street names of Portland.)
Here are some of the most usable Simpsons-inspired names— (no Boobarellas here):
Alaska (last name Nebraska)