Category: TV names
At last, at last, the third season of Downton Abbey has finally launched, a further opportunity for those of us who love vintage British names to spend time with the Crawley clan et al. We’re now lucky enough to have had two recent TV period imports with great examples of character names, both for the aristos upstairs and the servants below. The time frame of both Downton Abbey and the recently updated Upstairs, Downstairs is the early decades of the twentieth century: Downton now picks up in 1920; the second series of Upstairs in 1936, six years after the initial one ended.
And if there seems to be a preponderance of girls’ names, it’s because so many of the male characters, both upstairs and down, have such common names as Thomas, Robert, Matthew, William, Joseph and John.
Here are some of the most interesting names in both series; and it’s worthy of note that the British TV names that are being revived today come equally from both social strata, as in, for example, Isobel and Ivy, Edith and Elsie.
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.
In the L.A. Times the other day, an article talked about prime-time television’s “reinvigorated love of the western, where projects are sprouting like cactus in the desert…and viewers may see the biggest glut of westerns since the genre’s heyday of the ‘60s.”
It was that heyday that incited the stampede of names that hadn’t been heard in a century onto the boys’ popularity lists of the 1950s, sixties and seventies, some of which are still riding tall in the saddle.
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
When The Golden Girls hit the small screen in 1985, the names of its leading ladies—Rose, Dorothy and Blanche—were late middle aged, and Mama Sophia was old enough to have already been in and out of the Shady Pines Nursing Home. That was 25 years ago, a period of major change in the name world. Sophia is now the seventh most popular baby name (and #1 in some places), Rose is America‘s favorite middle name, and Dorothy is one of the belles of the nameberry name boards.
Not only that: other Golden Girl names, names that were virtually written off just a couple of years ago, are back in play. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, for example, named one of their twin daughters Marion, Julia Roberts chose Hazel for hers and Molly Ringwald picked Adele. And nameberryites are cool with similar period names like Clara and Cora, Vivian and Vera.