Celebrity Names Blog

NameCandy Reality Check: Private Practice Character Names

NameCandy Reality Check: Private Practice Character Names

Last week, we discussed how characters in TV shows or movies sometimes have names consistent with current trends to appeal to modern audiences, instead of names that fit the age of the character. One of our commenters pointed out that Private Practice is one of the biggest offenders. While some now-trendy TV names  may have been uncommon at the year of the character's birth, but not necessarily unheard of, this cast of 30- and 40-somethings sounds more like the kindergarten class of 2014.

Fashionably named character #1: Addison Adrianne Forbes Montgomery, Neonatal Surgeon

Age: Late 30’s

Born: Approx. 1968-1970

Name rank at birth: Not ranked

Name rank in 2007: 11

Name rank in 2010:11

Click here for NameVoyager Popularity Trend for Addison

This would have been a very unusual name choice given the age of Addison Montgomery, Kate Walsh (who plays her), or, frankly, any girl who has graduated elementary school. When people picture an "Addison" as an adult, this character is probably more likely than any other to come to mind. How much does Kate Walsh shape our perception of who an Addison grows up to be?

Fashionably named character #2: Cooper “Coop” Freedman, Pediatrics

Age: Mid- to Late-30s

Born: Approx. 1967 - 1970

Name rank at birth: Not ranked in 60s or 70s

Name rank in 2007: 95

Name rank in 2010: 76

Click here for NameVoyager Popularity Trend for Cooper

Cooper, among other -er surnames as first names, is boys' names is a 2010s name through and through. Perhaps it doesn't sound completely unnatural to call a guy "Coop," but until a few years ago, it would have only been a short version of a surname.

Fashionably named character #3: Amelia Shepherd, Neurosurgery  (first appeared in 2010)

Age: Approx. Late 20s

Born: approx. 1981

Name rank at birth: 286

Name rank in 2010: 41

Click here for NameVoyager Popularity Trend for Amelia

Amelia is an old name that has always been fairly "normal," but compared to its popularity now, and right next to  Addison, "Amelia" is in the midst of major trend.

Fashionably named character #4: Violet Turner, Psychiatry

Age: Early 40s

Born: Approx 1964 - 1967

Name rank in 1964: 674 (810 in 1967)

Name rank in 2007: 229

Name rank in 2010: 123

Click here for NameVoyager Popularity Trend for Violet

Violet had its peak at 79 in 1910s, and dropped out of the top 1000 in the '70s and '80s. It creeped back up during the '90s, and showed a huge spike in 2005, the year that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck chose the name for their daughter.

Fashionably named character #5: Archer Montgomery, Neurologist and older brother to Addison

Age: Early to mid 40s

Born: Approx 1962 to 1965

Name rank at birth:

Name rank in 2008 (when he first appeared on the show):

Name rank in 2010: 550

Click here for NameVoyager Popularity Trend for Archer

Archer was nowhere to be seen on the Top 1000 list between 1880s and 2009. Now, along with Cooper, its part of the surname as a first name trend. Were Addison and Archer's parents really that prophetic? Just saying.

Individually, we wouldn't discount any of these names as completely impossible, but as a group, these doctors are just a little too lucky that all their obscure names just happened to come into style, all at the same time. What do you think of the characters' names on Private Practice?  Do they make sense to you?  And do they make you liek the show more or less?



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

August 21, 2011 10:21 PM
By AngelaAiea (not verified)

It should be mentioned that "Addison" leapt from #106 to #28 the year the character Addison Forbes (nee Shepherd) appeared on Grey's Anatomy. So although the name is still anachronistic, the character most likely did a lot to instigate the upswing in usage of the name, bringing it to #11 by the time the spin-off "Private Practice" began.

August 22, 2011 7:17 AM
By Amelia (not verified)

I don't think Violet or Amelia are all that bad - after all, I was named Amelia in 1987. Archer and Cooper, on the other hand? Fairly ridiculous for a grown man. (Personally, I think naming someone "Cooper" i.e. "Barrel Maker" is ridiculous in any time period)

August 22, 2011 11:01 AM
By Andrea (not verified)

One that really drives me nuts: Walt's wife Skylar on Breaking Bad.

She's in her early 40s. "Skylar" dates to what, the 90s?

August 22, 2011 11:36 AM
By Ilikefacts (not verified)

Your math is wrong for most of these... For instance, if Addison was born near 1968-70, she would be at the very least 41.

August 22, 2011 12:51 PM
By Another British Laura (not verified)

I'm sure they offered an explanation of the name Addison on Grey's Anatomy- something to do with her father/grandfather.

I think Violet's character matches her name- more kind of 60's flower power child.

It is the boys names I have more of a problem believing- their anachronism did bother me slightly when I watched the show more.

August 22, 2011 3:04 PM
By Jessica (not verified)

Worth mentioning, I think, is the show Cougar Town. Ellie and Grayson are both 30-40 somethings. Ellie and her husband Andy have an infant son named Stanley. I have trouble understanding the naming concepts on the show, but it is filled with quirky humor so I've chalked it up to quirk. :)

August 22, 2011 3:59 PM
By Brooke (not verified)

To Jessica- I know a 46 year old man named Grayson, and I had known several Ellie's from working summers in rest homes. Some were actually named Ellie, some were Eleanor, etc. I think they weren't out of the ordinary with any of their names. I certainly wouldn't choose Stanley for my child haha but those names are coming back around strong. I like the show, too. :-)Anyways, yeah it does bother me to see characters with names that didn't appear until they graduated high school. I'm really quite a name buff, so I notice names everywhere I go. I met a man today that was about 65 first name Noble. It made me stop for a minute! The name peaked in the 1900's, and dropped off the charts from there, so he's in quite an awkward age group for that name.

August 22, 2011 9:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't consider a named ranked 286 to be obscure or odd for that time period. I know several Amelias of varying ages.

August 23, 2011 11:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I actually really love all of those names (with the exception of Cooper perhaps, but only becauseI know so many under 3yo). I think that screams that they are a little "off" for the ages of the characters, as I'm pretty sure my naming style is consistent with my peers who are all having children now. I agree with the thought that individually they aren't too hard to swallow, but together, might be a little far fetched (especially when you add Charlotte, which was heading towards an all time low in the 70s).

There is a 50% chance my partner and I will have a little Archer in March 2012.

We were watching Private Practice when I turned to him and said, "What about Archer?" and he wholeheartedly agreed. It's the name he has the most attachment to now. I wasn't pregnant at the time(nor were we even trying).

The other name he loves is Ruby, which I love, but the popularity bothers me(it was the #1 ranked girl's name in my state last year). I have a name that didn't become popular until I was a teenager, and I loved being the only one in my class. My partner, on the other hand, is an Aaron born in 1979.

Any ideas for other names with the same "feel" as Ruby, without being quite as popular. We like Ivy, but would love more options as well as MN suggestions (LN is rare, French, 2 syllables, last one rhyming with "air"). I actually like Hazel (it was his grandmother's name), but he will only consider it as a MN.

August 24, 2011 11:57 AM
By Paula (not verified)

I'm glad to see this issue (TV character names "out of their times") addressed here, because I've been noticing it for quite awhile! In the early 1990's, when it seemed that everybody was naming their newborn daughters Caitlin, there was a character named Caitlin on the soap opera Sunset Beach. This character was probably in her late teens to early 20's, nearly old enough to be the mother of many of the real-life Caitlins who were making their appearances then.

The TV show Diagnosis Murder also had a "senior-aged" lady named Madison at a time when Madison was super popular for young girls. The character was old enough to have been the grandmother of many of the Madisons that existed in real life then.

Those are two examples I can remember, but I know there have been plenty of others. No big deal, since these are fictional characters we're talking about, but it's certainly something I've noticed over the years.

August 24, 2011 12:14 PM
By Kae (not verified)

"...sounds more like the kindergarten class of 2014."

In fact, my daughter's Kindergarten class last year had children named Cooper, Amelia, and Violet.

August 24, 2011 12:39 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Can you call the character's name trendy if her character's name started a huge upswing in the popularity of the name? It's trendy because she started the trend not because the character came along after the name had become another Emma or Aidan.

August 24, 2011 3:22 PM
By Cabo (not verified)

To Anonymous, I'd encourage you to reconsider jettisoning Ruby, the only name you mentioned that you said both you and your partner love. Go to the Name Lady section of this website and on the left there is a Search feature. Search the Archives for May 2011 columns and on May 23 you will read one about someone struggling with the exact same issue. And make sure to read the comments; there is even one by a woman who almost didn't name her daughter Ruby because she was afraid it was trendy, but now she is so glad that she kept the name because she really loves it.

There is so much more diversity in the name lists now that even being the #1 name in your state doesn't guarantee that you will encounter another Ruby anytime soon. And if you do, so what? My childrens' friends manage just fine with multiple Ryans, Andrews, Elises, Claires and Jacks.

As for similar feeling names, it depends on what draws you to Ruby in the first place. Garnet, Pearl and Opal come to mind, and also Ava, Eve, Ida, Mae, Ruth, Irene, Adele, Rue, Helen, Ivy, Fern, Brooke.

August 24, 2011 5:29 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Eli and Peyton Manning's older brother is Cooper. He's in his late thirties and that seems normal to me. My mother-in-law's neighbor was a Cooper. He would be well over 100 years old now. I had a colleague named Cooper who would be about 89 I should think. I don't see the name as date stamped.

Now Gemma in Sons of Anarchy and Bethany and Megan in Mad Men, that's another story.

August 25, 2011 7:20 AM
By Heather A (not verified)

Hum, I wish I could use the author's math to calculate my age. Or does the show not take place in 2005, then the age calculations would make sense.

August 25, 2011 7:49 PM
By MissyHolland (not verified)

On one Frasier episode Niles listened incredulously to Daphne's suggestions for their baby's name: "Taylor. Fletcher. Cooper. Tanner. Where are you getting these names, the Big Book of Medieval Professions?" -Niles

August 30, 2011 12:18 PM
By StephJ (not verified)

To the PP who said that Addison on Grey's Anatomy started the trend of little Addisons, that's true, but although her name was basically unheard of before that show, it does fit in with several trends: rhymes with Madison, surname-y feel, cute possible nickname (Addy). It's almost like the creators of Grey's anatomy created a new name that was right on-trend, and the naming public took it and ran with it.
Archer and Cooper ARE totally unrealistic for men of that age, and Violet and Amelia are possible, but unlikely. The trend at the time those adults would have been named was for Biblical names for boys (David, Michael, Mark and Jason were names popular where and when I grew up born in the mid-70s). And for the girls the names were Jennifer, Stephanie, Melissa, etc.

February 18, 2012 3:53 AM
By JD (not verified)

Now let's be fair, how boring would it be if everyone on TV were named for the Top 100 list? That being said, some names just scream "No way an adult would ever be named THAT".

I don't find Amelia that "unlikely" on a woman her age. It DID rank around the time the character was born and not everyone is named from the top 100 list. It's not trendy, it's a classic. Amelia just seems a bit odd with siblings named Derek, Kathleen and Nancy.

Addison and Archer I understand. They come from a old money family. It wasn't and still isn't unusual for those people to use names of that sort. They are trendy now, but were wasp-y then. They probably picked them out of their family tree or something.

The only one that is unbelievable to me is Cooper.

October 5, 2012 1:59 AM
By Alethia Brockman (not verified)

it would have only been a short version of a surname.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.