Celebrity Names Blog

NameCandy Reality Check: The Best Man Is Named Harper?

NameCandy Reality Check: The Best Man Is Named Harper?

Box office mavens were surprised to see that The Best Man Holiday, a 14-years-later sequel to The Best Man, made more than superhero flick Thor on Friday. Who knew there was an audience eager for a follow-up to a more than decade-old movie? (Answer: Anyone who has watched The Best Man a half-dozen times on BET over the years). The movie’s surprising performance gives us a great reason to revisit the names of these characters and how their popularity has waxed and waned in the many years since the first film’s release.

For those who have not caught the film on one of its many many showings on basic cable, the main character, Harper, is a writer who has written an autobiographical tale that stirs up old secrets and problems among a group of African American college friends. Of course, everything must (and will) be resolved before the main wedding occurs.

The Best Men:

Since the movie came out many of these names have risen and fallen, Harper was the rarest name and has had the most unusual story. 1999 was many things but it was also a time when only 112 littler girls named Harper were born, and even fewer boys. That was before Harper (Beckham), Harper (Harris-Burtka) and even Harper (Rhimes) were even a twinkle in their parents' eyes. And back when these characters would have been born, there were only a handful of babies (of both sexes) given the name. But fourteen years later, the name is not rare, and is also decisively female.

Lance was actually a pretty appropriate choice for a name. It peaked in the 70s, making the character just about exactly the right age for the name.

The name Julian is going strong and seems to be making a slow and steady march to the top of the charts.

While Quentin never burned up the charts, it has remained fairly common for many years and continues its steady ways.

The Women:

In 1999 Jordan was about as popular for girls as it’s ever been. It was in the top 50 names then and coincidentally this was also the year that NBA superstar Michael Jordan retired.

1999 was also an interesting year for the name Robin; it was the last time Robin was in the top 1000 boys’ names. Even after Robin made the switch to the girls’ side, only five years later it was gone from there too.  

Candace met the same fate as Robin. Six years after the movie it was out of the top 1000 most popular names.

Like Jordan, Shelby peaked in the 1990s, and is currently somewhere in the middle of popularity  charts.

Mia—out of all the names from this movie Mia is the big winner.  It went from 120 to #8 since the movie’s release.

How do you think these names have held up? Will Robin ever come back for boys or girls?



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November 20, 2013 12:02 AM
By essay (not verified)

Seems like this is a good flick with the way you interpreted on what you have watched. Been very busy for the past week because I need to finish my term papers. Will try to catch this one on weekend.

November 26, 2013 10:23 PM
By nam lim xanh that va gia (not verified)

love it

November 27, 2013 11:30 AM
By Kira (not verified)

The allure of Harper has always eluded me, particularly as a girls' name. Its sound is harsh, and it's too heavy on r's. I hope it goes the way of Enid and Hortense :)

Thank you for writing about the names in this fine movie ... great analysis of the names over time. I believe these names - Quentin in particular - have enjoyed frequent usage in the African American community. Mia, Julian, and Quentin are on the way up in the U.S. overall, and Shelby, Jordan, and Robin will need to wait a couple of generations before seeing a resurgence.

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