Category: TV names
By David Schmidt
Since it began in 2011, the HBO drama Game of Thrones has affected the lives of millions of people in some way or another. Some cried for hours when their favorite characters died; some even had Game of Thrones-themed weddings.
But others went the extra mile—not only has the TV show been a part of their lives, but they have made sure that it will be a part of the lives of their children, too.
By naming their babies after the fictional Game of Thrones characters. That’s right—children of generations to come will have playdates with little Khaleesis, and hopefully the future Joffreys will make a point to show more kindness than their namesake.
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.