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Category: TV names

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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TV Character Names: Dynasty & Dallas

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Once in a while some pop culture phenomenon comes along that doesn’t just reflect the name gestalt of its day, but actually influences it. This was the case with the glossy nighttime soaps of the late 70s and early 80s–most particularly Dynasty—which were all about wealth and greed, ambition, melodrama, campy catfights –and humungous shoulder pads.

The writers on these shows were quite ingenious in the way they came up with names that reflected perfectly those values and vices. Male names that were short, sleek, and powerful. Sophisticated, boyish women’s names like Arliss that were a complete reversal of  the previous decades’ unisex nicknamish names like Jodie and Jamie. Elegant surname names such as Blake Carrington.

Probably the most influential was the name of Blake’s ex-wife, that evil viper, Alexis. Despite the character’s villainy, her name took off, and was instrumental in the success of other Alexi: Alexandra, Alexa, Alex et al. In the year before Dynasty debuted in 1982, there were scarcely 1500 girls given that name across the country; by 1999, it had reached #3 on the list, with the birth of 19,000 baby Alexises.

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Soap Opera Names

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The term ‘soap opera name’ has always had a pejorative connotation, suggesting over-the-top, strong, silent Ridge-Thorne-Trent type names. But the truth of the matter is that the scripters of  daytime dramas have actually been a lot more imaginative–and prescient–than those of, say, sitcoms or nighttime dramas.

The classic example–as Abby Sandel mentioned in her guest blog the other day–is Kayla.  When the character of Kayla Brady was introduced on Days of Our Lives in 1982, her name had hardly been heard of–much less used.  But not long after that, Kayla began an unprecedented leap up the lists, and stayed there for well over a decade.

Soaps also anticipated the trend of using place names for people–there were Egypts and Indias, Sierras and Friscos years before it was a baby-naming trend and they were in the forefront of using last names as firsts.  And there were too many individual names that were ahead of their time: Cameron, Kyle and Kylie, Logan, Hunter, HoldenColton, Cooper, Roman, Jagger, Harley for a girl…. all of them appeared on the soaps from the 70s to the 90s.

Now, as one of the stalwarts of soap operadom, The Guiding Light, is about to bite the dust after 72 years on radio and TV, this seems like a good moment to celebrate some of the more original sudsy names of the past and present (but sorry, I draw the line at Chardonnay):

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