Wednesday, September 24, 2014

So no one told you life was gonna be this way...

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Friends. Nevermind that I'm old, this is truly a milestone as the show is one of the best comedies of all time in American television. Our current society will forever be influenced by it, including the hairstyles, the quotes, and the... names?

So... do we have more Emmas in the world because of Friends? What about Rachels? My own daughter is a Rachel, and while I have always been a huge fan of the show, I can honestly say her name has absolutely no connection to Rachel Green. I'm sure most parents of Chandlers and Monicas out there will say the same thing, but let's take a look at the numbers anyway... for fun.

For the purposes of this analysis, I used raw numbers. I just wanted to know if more babies were named these names from one year to the next.

Friends debuted in September 1994. Listed below are numbers beginning in 1990 to show the trend of the name in the years leading up to the debut. Also included are the 10 years the show was on the air (1994-2004) and several years after.

Here are the girls' names...

I see no real significant spike in numbers due to the show. For Monica and Rachel, the numbers went up a bit in the first several years of the show, but nothing huge in comparison to the numbers before the show started. Phoebe started its big climb during the show's reign, and then kept getting bigger and bigger after the show ended. Phoebe continued to increase in popularity while Monica and Rachel decrease. Now for the boys...

Joseph is a classic name that is a steady presence in the Top 100, so we won't really go into it much in relation to the show, but just as a point of interest, you can see it gradually decreasing in popularity as time goes on. Ross was on its way down when Friends started, but may have benefited from it in the show's second and third years before continuing its decline. And while you can see a slight increase leading up to the show, I think it's pretty safe to say that Chandler prospered from the show's run. There was never another time when Chandler's numbers were above 1,000 than while Friends was on the air.

Now what about baby girl Chandler and Emma...

While it's interesting that baby girls named Chandler jumped quite a bit in 1995, it wasn't due to "baby girl Chandler" who was born in 1998 on the show, but parents may have been inspired by Chandler Bing enough to name their daughter have him. What's fascinating is a significant spike in 1992 and 1993, before the show even started... what could that be from? As for Emma, it was well on its way to the top several years before Ross and Rachel's daughter was born in 2002, but the fictional baby may have sped up the process, boosting it into the Top 5 that same year.

Do you have a favorite Friends name? Do you believe the show influenced the popularity in the character's names at all?


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