Sometimes in the course of doing this post, I come across a name that is, as the kids are saying these days, full of win. Such is Olivia.
Were any Olivias not precocious little girls? Partly I'm informed by Little Miss Sunshine's Olive here, but partly I can't think of the name Olivia without picturing a nine-year-old in patent leather shoes eating a butterscotch sundae and showing off her Latin skills. But not in an annoying way. Sure, some Olivias may be hyper-managed children — the name was #6 in the nation last year, and some of those girls had to be born to asshole kneepad parents. Still, I believe Olivias can transcend even the most yuppified upbringing, putting on amateur plays and winning science fairs and generally spouting beyond-their-years wisdom in a way that charms you and doesn't piss you off.
Some prodigies founder later in life, but not our Olivia. Sure, she has her share of problems. I see Olivia as a passionate sort, who loves hard and takes breakups harder, and who sometimes falls for unsuitable men or women. But she always rallies, in part because the qualities that made her adorable in childhood continue to attract a wide circle of friends. One or more of these friends may be secretly in love with her.
Several sources claim Shakespeare coined the name Olivia in Twelfth Night. I'm skeptical of this, and I also think the cross-dressing Viola is the more interesting female role in that play. But Helena Bonham-Carter played Olivia in the movie version of Twelfth Night, which lends the name some reflected awesome. Olivia's also a multi-talented fictional pig, a child prodigy in porcine form. But of course the Olivia par excellence is Olivia Benson, Mariska Hargitay's character on Law & Order: SVU.
Hargitay's Olivia has a troubled past that continues to haunt her, and there is the suggestion that her commitment to her job precludes close relationships (except with her partner, Elliot Stabler, with whom she maintains a sexual tension just below Mulder-and-Scully levels). But none of this prevents Olivia from feats of badassery that would probably get a real cop fired (would any characters on SVU still have a job with the real NYPD at this point?) but that make her one of the most compelling characters on TV. And unlike 30 Rock's Liz Lemon, she's a hot woman over 35 who's actually portrayed as being hot, not frumpy or desperate or weird.
Apparently some fans see sexual sparks between Olivia Benson and Assistant District Attorney Alex Cabot (played by Stephanie March, who also appeared on 30 Rock when she went on an ill-fated blind date with Liz). Hardcore Babylon 5 fans (I know you're out there) will recognize a previous model for this hinted-at-but-never-stated relationship in the one between Susan Ivanova and Talia Winters. If Olivia and Alex ever got together for real — or if they wanted to steal away for a secret weekend tryst — they could take a trip with Olivia Lesbian Travel, "the leader in lesbian cruises and resort vacations." Olivia Travel's website says, "we charter the whole ship, or buy out the whole resort, then fill it with women!" Which, if they fill it with Olivias, sounds like a pretty sweet vacation.
Images via Comcast, Amazon, Emsifoppicus, Glassford Hill Girl.
Earlier: N Is For Natasha, A Femme Fatale
M Is For Michelle, An Elegant Mystery
L Is For Lisa, Whose Looks Are Deceiving
K Is For Kate, Who Kicks Ass, Takes Names
J Is For Jennifer, The Vanilla Of Names
I Is For Isabel, Who's Snooty, But Earns It
H Is For Hillary, A Barrel Of Laughs
G Is For Grace - What's That Up Her Sleeve?
F Is For Francesca, And I Wish I Were Her
E Is For Emily, Who Seems Sweet (At First)
D Is For Danielle (Or Dani, Who's Apparently Kinda Judgey)
C Is For Courtney, Who's Too Cool For School
B is for Beth (And Barack! And Bandana!)
A Is For Anna: What My First Name Says About Me