Several months ago, the cast of the inaugural season of MTV’s The Real World held a 6-day reunion in the very same NYC loft they shared back in 1992. The reunion — which was filmed, of course — is now airing as a series on the Paramount+ platform. (Here’s the trailer.)
When I was a teenager, I loved watching The Real World. (And I appreciated that the names of the cast members were always prominently displayed in the opening credits!) So I think now would be a great time to go back and see if any Real World cast member names had an influence on U.S. baby names.
First, let’s start with a comprehensive list of all the cast member names from each of RW‘s 33 (!) seasons…
The Real World: New York (1992): Andre, Becky, Eric, Heather, Julie, Kevin, Norman
The Real World: California (1993): Aaron, Beth (x2), David, Dominic, Glen, Irene, Jon, Tami
The Real World: San Francisco (1994): Cory, Jo, Judd, Mohammed, Pam, Pedro, Puck, Rachel
The Real World: London (1995): Jacinda, Jay, Kat, Lars, Mike, Neil, Sharon
The Real World: Miami (1996): Cynthia, Dan, Flora, Joe, Melissa, Mike, Sarah
The Real World: Boston (1997): Elka, Genesis, Jason, Kameelah, Montana, Sean, Syrus
The Real World: Seattle (1998): David, Irene, Janet, Lindsay, Nathan, Rebecca, Stephen
The Real World: Hawaii (1999): Amaya, Colin, Justin, Kaia, Matt, Ruthie, Teck
The Real World: New Orleans (2000): Danny, David, Jamie, Julie, Kelley, Matt, Melissa
The Real World: Back to New York (2001): Coral, Kevin, Lori, Malik, Mike, Nicole, Rachel
The Real World: Chicago (2002): Aneesa, Cara, Chris, Keri, Kyle, Theo, Tonya
The Real World: Las Vegas (2002-2003): Alton, Arissa, Brynn, Frank, Irulan, Steven, Trishelle
The Real World: Paris (2003): Ace, Adam, Chris, Christina, Leah, Mallory, Simon
The Real World: San Diego (2004): Brad, Cameran, Charlie, Frankie, Jacquese, Jamie, Randy, Robin
The Real World: Philadelphia (2004-2005): Karamo, Landon, Melanie, M.J., Sarah, Shavonda, Willie
The Real World: Austin (2005): Danny, Johanna, Lacey, Melinda, Nehemiah, Rachel, Wes
The Real World: Key West (2006): Janelle, John, Jose, Paula, Svetlana, Tyler, Zach
The Real World: Denver (2006-2007): Alex, Brooke, Colie, Davis, Jenn, Stephen, Tyrie
The Real World: Sydney (2007-2008): Ashli, Cohutta, Dunbar, Isaac, KellyAnne, Parisa, Shauvon, Trisha
The Real World: Hollywood (2008): Brianna, Brittini, Dave, Greg, Joey, Kimberly, Nick, Sarah, Will
The Real World: Brooklyn (2009): Baya, Chet, Devyn, J.D., Katelynn, Ryan, Sarah, Scott
The Real World: Cancun (2009): Ayiiia, Bronne, CJ, Derek, Emilee, Jasmine, Joey, Jonna
The Real World: D.C. (2009-2010): Andrew, Ashley, Callie, Emily, Erika, Josh, Mike, Ty
The Real World: New Orleans (2010): Ashlee, Eric, Jemmye, McKenzie, Preston, Ryan (x2), Sahar
The Real World: Las Vegas (2011): Adam, Dustin, Heather (x2), Leroy, Michael, Nany, Naomi
The Real World: San Diego (2011): Alexandra, Ashley, Frank, Nate, Priscilla, Sam, Zach
The Real World: St. Thomas (2012): Brandon (x2), LaToya, Laura, Marie, Robb, Trey
The Real World: Portland (2013): Anastasia, Averey, Jessica, Johnny, Joi, Jordan, Marlon, Nia
Real World: Ex-Plosion (2014): Arielle, Ashley (x2), Brian, Cory, Hailey, Jamie, Jay, Jenna, Jenny, Lauren, Thomas
Real World: Go Big or Go Home (2016): CeeJai, Chris, Dean, Dione, Dylan, Jenna, Kailah, Sabrina
Real World Seattle: Bad Blood (2016-2017): Anika, Anna, Jennifer, Jordan, Kassius, Katrina, Kimberly, Mike, Orlana, Peter, Robbie, Theo, Tyara, Will
The Real World: Atlanta (2019): Arely, Clint, Dondre, Justin, Meagan, Tovah, Yasmin
The names in boldface line up with a discernible increase in baby name usage. (Other Real World names may have affected baby names as well, but it can be hard to tell when, say, a name is already common, or already on the rise.)
Here are details on all the boldfaced names, plus two more influential RW names (from seasons 6 and 18) that didn’t even belong to primary cast members.
The name Jacinda (from season 4; 1995) saw peak usage in 1996.
The name Flora (5; 1996) saw increased usage in 1997.
The name Kameelah (6; 1997) saw increased usage in 1998.
The name Syrus (6; 1997) saw increased usage in 1997.
The name Jason (6; 1997) was probably not affected, but the name of Jason’s girlfriend, Timber, saw increased usage in 1998.
The name Amaya (8; 1999) saw sharply increased usage in 1999 and 2000.
The name Kaia (8; 1999) saw increased usage in 1999.
The name Ruthie (8; 1999) saw increased usage in 1999.
The name Aneesa (11; 2002) saw peak usage in 2002.
The name Arissa (12; 2002-3) saw peak usage in 2003.
The name Brynn (12; 2002-3) saw sharply increased usage in 2003.
The name Irulan (12; 2002-3) debuted in the data in 2003.
It looks like she was named after the fictional character Princess Irulan from Frank Herbert’s Dune books…?
The name Trishelle (12; 2002-3) saw peak usage in 2004.
The name Mallory (13; 2003) saw increased usage in 2003 and 2004.
The name Cameran (14; 2004) saw peak usage in 2004.
The name Jacquese (14; 2004) both returned to the data and saw peak usage in 2004.
The name Johanna (16; 2005) saw increased usage in 2005.
The name Nehemiah (16; 2005) saw increased usage in 2005 and 2006.
The name Janelle (17; 2006) saw increased usage in 2006.
The name Svetlana (17; 2006) saw peak usage in 2007.
The name Colie (18; 2006-7) both returned to the data and saw peak usage in 2007.
The name Tyrie (18; 2006-7) saw peak usage in 2007.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
Jeff: Yeah that’s Charlie Ocean! And then our other son [with wife Emilie Livingston, a Canadian aerialist, actress, and former Olympian] who’s now 11 months old is River Joe.
Vice: Any musical streaks in either of them yet?
Jeff: I’ve always sat at the piano these last couple years with Charlie Ocean and he kinda bangs around. But I must say, River Joe, when I play or we put on music, boy he’s just standing up at this point, but he rocks to the music and bounces up and down. He seems to really like it so maybe he’s musical. I’d like to play with them.
(I am fascinated by the fact that the boys aren’t simply Charlie and Joe. Clearly the water aspect of each name requires emphasis every time.)
In reality, I was named for two grandmothers: Jenny Frances and Lucy Madeleine. However, when I introduce myself at baking classes, I lie.
“My parents named me after the most famous pastry in French literature.”
It is a good name for a pâtissier, a pastry chef, and a good story to tell. The mnemonic sticks in my students’ minds, and after three hours and four cakes made together, they remember me as Madeleine and not Frances. Stories make for powerful anchors, even when the truth is twisted for dramatic effect.
Escoffier came up with thousands of new recipes, many of which he served at London’s Savoy Hotel and the Paris Ritz. Some were genuine leaps of ingenuity, others a twist on a classic French dish. Many carry someone else’s name. In early dishes, these are often historical greats: Oeufs Rossini, for the composer; Consommé Zola, for the writer; Omelette Agnès Sorel, for the mistress of Charles VII. Later on, however, Escoffier made a habit of giving dishes the handles of people who, in their day, were virtual household names: An entire choir of opera singers’ names are to be found in Escoffier’s cookery books. The most famous examples are likely Melba toast and Peach Melba, for the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba, though there are hundreds of others.
A lot of baggage comes with the name Tim. I have not forgotten Martin Amis’s 20-year-old description of Tim Henman as “the first human being called Tim to achieve anything at all”. More recently Will Self wrote: “There’s little doubt that your life chances will be constrained should your otherwise risk-averse parents have had the temerity to Tim you.” This was in a review of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, the many faults of which Self put down to founder Tim Martin never being able “to escape the fact of his Timness”.
Amis and Self believe the poor showing of Tims is the result of nominative determinism: the name Tim carries expectations of inconsequentiality that anyone so christened will eventually come to embody. Gallingly, research suggests they may be right.
This was clearly shown when Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s first son Thiago was born to partner Antonella Roccuzzo in November 2012. That year the name Thiago did not appear in the Top 100 boys names given to babies in Spain, according to Spain’s National Statistics Agency [INE].
Something similar happened when Mateo Messi was born in Sep 2015. In just 12 months Mateo climbed from 14th to 9th most popular name among Spanish parents. Ciro Messi, born in March this year, will surely see the originally Persian name break into the top 100.
Doe Library’s North Reading Room became Ruiz’s haven. “It was one of the few quiet places where I felt I could focus,” she says. “That season of my life was extremely dark; I didn’t know if I’d make it to graduation, or how I could possibly raise a baby at this time.”
One day at the library, she noticed light shining down on her growing belly, right over the university seal on her T-shirt and the words “fiat lux.” She and Blanchard had considered Lillian or Clara as baby names, but now the choice was made.
“I felt my daughter kick, and it occurred to me that clara in Spanish means ‘bright,’ and I imagined the way that this baby could and would be the bright light at the end of this dark season,” says Ruiz, who gave birth to Clara on May 15, 2014.
For many entrepreneurs, starting a business often feels like bringing new life into the world. It’s not every day though, that your endeavours result in a baby named in your honour.
“That’s the pinnacle for me, it’s simply mind-blowing,” says Eden Blackman, founder of online dating business Would Like to Meet and namesake of young Eden, whose parents met on the site several years ago. “That is amazing and quite a lot to take on but it’s a beautiful thing.”
I cringe a little whenever I hear someone say my name, and have ever since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is of a lady in a department store asking me my name and bursting out laughing when I said, “Arthur.”
Before you judge that lady, let’s acknowledge that it is actually pretty amusing to meet a little kid with an old man’s name. According to the Social Security Administration, “Arthur” maxed out in popularity back in the ’90s. That is, the 1890s. It has fallen like a rock in popularity since then. I was named after my grandfather, and even he complained that his name made him sound old. Currently, “Arthur” doesn’t even crack the top 200 boys’ names. Since 2013, it has been beaten in popularity by “Maximus” (No. 200 last year) and “Maverick” (No. 85).
One thing I constantly hear from people I meet for the first time is, “I imagined you as being much older.” I don’t take this as flattery, because at 54, I’m really not that young. What they are saying is that they imagined someone about 100 years old.