Here’s something that fascinates me: small screen names – from television characters, reality stars, or even someone mentioned on television lots, like a talk show host’s much-mentioned child – seem to be consistently more influential than names from movies, even blockbusters.
There are exceptions, of course. And the pool of potential television names is many times deeper than the equivalent pool from the big screen.
But even so, I think television wins the influence game for several reasons.
- Even if you’re a binge-watcher (guilty), few of us actually finish a series in one sitting. That means the characters stay with us over – at least – weeks. If you’re talking about more conventionally formatted network television, expand that over months. And a successful show – even with streaming – runs over years. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel first aired in March 2017. The fourth season won’t premiere until maybe December 2020. That’s a lot of time to warm up to Miriam.
- Because there’s so much television – and we all can’t watch it all – it makes us feel like names are less tied to series. We can instantly picture Queen Elsa or Tom Cruise as Maverick. But even a show as massive as, say, Game of Thrones, only commands a small percentage of the viewing audience. Imagine you really like the name, of, say, a whip smart assistant on a legal drama that ran for three seasons. Chances are no one will connect the dots.
- I think we often experience television as background noise. We’re not actively watching – or even listening – as our kids chill out with Paw Patrol, or as that episode of Love It or List It plays in the dentist’s office reception area. Or our co-workers are so into The Witcher that we recognize the name Geralt without having ever since an episode.
All of this came to mind when I saw the title of NBC’s new sitcom: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Up until 2011, the more traditional Zoe was the most popular spelling of the name in the US. Zoey, a sort of phonetic, Joey-inspired twist – followed Zoe up the charts. But it wasn’t until Zoey 101, starring Britney’s little sister, Jamie Lynn, starred as Zoey Brooks on a Nickelodeon series that the -y spelling picked up steam. Zoey eclipsed Zoe, and now it’s the natural, inevitable spelling for the lead character in the new NBC series.
I feel like Zoey is the new Kate – an everygirl name that feels brisk and modern, but not too out-there. And so the small-screen prompted spelling switch? Fascinates me.
Anyway, maybe that’s why Elsa hasn’t caught on, but Octavia has.
And on that note, did you see that Nancy’s latest installment of the Pop Culture Baby Name game is on? Details – and nominees! – here. Results come out in May 2020, after the new popularity data is released. Feel free to add your own suggestions to the list.
Would you shorten Alice? That seems bananas to me. In other words, I agree with Duana – again! Also, she’s got a great clip from Greta Gerwig’s interview with Jimmy Kimmel embedded in the piece. (Did you know she named her son Harold? For a great-grandfather. Love, love, love it!)
What else would you name a brother for Gus? It just has to be Hank, right? Welcome to the world, Hank Rice, son of Arrow actor Josh Segarra.
Earl and Bessie, Raymond and Maude were all once Top 20 names. Love this list from Clare at Nameberry.
And since we’re talking 20s, how ’bout Ava to Zeke’s round up of the new Roaring 20s names? I do love a good list of vintage revivals, and some of these could be ready for their close-up.
That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!