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Category: TV names

TV Names: Upstairs, Downstairs & Downton

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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.

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TV Names: Happy Soap Opera Day!

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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.

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Cowboy Names: Back in the saddle again

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Just as we’ve been heralding the trend towards cowboy names, it looks like we could be in for a posse of new ones.

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.

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TV Names: Let TV be your guide

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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?

GIRLS

ADALEEN—Big Love

ADRIANNA, nn ADE90210

AMITANUMB3RS

ARIZONAGrey’s Anatomy

BREE- Desperate Housewives

BRITTACommunity

CERIE—30 Rock

DOROTAThe Gossip Girls

FIAMiami Medical (upcoming)

FRANKIEThe Middle

JULESCougar Town

JULIETLost

HENRIETTA/”HETTY”—NCIS: Los Angeles

KALINDAThe Good Wife

KENSI—NCIS: Los Angeles

LUXLife Unexpected

MARGENEBig Love

MARISOLMiami Medical (upcoming)

MERCEDESGlee

NAEVIA—Sparticus: Blood & Sand

NICOLETTEBig Love

RILEYMelrose Place

SILVER (her last name used as first) 90210

SLOANEntourage

SURA—Spartacus: Blood & Sand

TANCYBig Love

WILHELMINAUgly Betty

ZOEYNurse Jackie

BOYS

ANDO—Heroes

ARIEntourage

ARLO24

ASHURSpartacus: Blood & Sand

AXLThe Middle

BAZE, nn for Nate Bazile—Life Unexpected

BOONELost

CASTIEL—Supernatural

CREEDThe Office (the real first name of the actor who plays him)

CROSBYParenthood

DANOI—Treme—upcoming

DEXTERDexter

DIXON90210

FINNGlee

FITCH—Nurse Jackie

FRITZThe Closer

GREYSONCougar Town

HIROHeroes

HUGO/”HURLEY”—Lost

IGNACIOUgly Betty

KIMBALL-The Mentalist

MILESLost

ORSONDesperate Housewives

PIERCECommunity

ROWDY—The Deep End

RUFUSGossip Girls

THATCHERGrey’s Anatomy

THORNurse Jackie

ZEEKParenthood

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Golden Girl Names

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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.

Here are some other alternative names that might have been used for the Golden Girls ladies—are any of them ready to join Rose and Sophia?

ALMA

BETTY

CEIL

DELLA

DORIS

EDITH

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