Mad Men Names

Mad Men, one of TV’s most popular shows, came back last weekend after a long hiatus. For me, of course, this begs the question: How popular are Mad Men names? It’s a period drama set in the 1960s, so the names are pretty distinct. Let’s take a look at some of the main character’s names:

Don Don Draper’s name was most popular in the early’30s — which makes sense, since that’s likely the time around when he was born. It’s been falling ever since, and left the top 1,000 names in 2001. Perhaps an updated version could be Donovan: That name was ranked 176 in 2003, and today is just barely out of the top 200.

Betty Don’s former wife has another 1930s-esque name. It was ranked second for a number of years, and fell off the charts in 1996. Interestingly, the full name Elizabeth was less popular during Betty’s heyday, but has been in or near the top 10 since 1980.

Pete If the stats mean anything, Pete’s full name is likely Peter. Though it’s not as popular as it was in the mid-1900s, Peter is one of the few Mad Men names that’s still relevant today. In the last name survey, it ranked number 192.

Peggy This pet form of Margaret was most popular in 1937 (ranked number 31) and fell off the charts all the way back in 1989. Full form Margaret is also much less popular than it once was, but remains firmly in the top 200.

Roger Roger currently ranks number 511, down from a peak of 22 in 1945. This shows pretty clearly that parents aren’t too interested in the name — not even a double dose of endorsement, from both Mad Men and tennis star Roger Federer, is helping the name climb back up the charts.

Joan Different name, same story. Joan fell off the charts in 1993, and peaked at number five in 1931 and ’32. While J names are popular today, Joan is not a part of the trend.

In conclusion… Even a show as popular as Mad Men isn’t enough to bring back names that are basically dead. While old-fashioned names are very popular right now, Mad Men is still to recent to be considered fashionable — the names strike images of older aunts and uncles, not great-grandparents. Perhaps in 25 more years we’ll be seeing little Bettys and Dons, but for now, they just don’t make the cut.

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