By: Peter Parker
In a world where queer theory and feminists readings dominate the realm of academia, the analytical method known as esoteric analysis is, sadly, restricted to the outer fringes of the world wide web or conversations I have with the homeless guys who congregate under the local overpass… and usually the homeless guys wander off when they find out I don’t have any change, booze or drugs. But who needs stuffy academics and smelly hobos anyway? With nothing more than girl-friendlessness induced free time, a brain polluted by archaic pop culture, access to an online etymology dictionary and completion of a first year myth and symbol course from a semi-reputable university, you too can have hours of fun, ringing, highly tangential, evidence for the presence of mystic arcanum from the beloved situation comedies of yesteryear. Think I’m joking? No my friends, I’m deadly serious.
For example, did you know that the 80′s sit-com The Facts of Life is filled with Garden of Eden/Pastoral imagery? Nearly every character’s name means something like field or garden. Why? What secret purpose does it serve? What unseen hand is responsible? I do not know? Perhaps it speaks some greater truth about the human spirit, after all, like the song says; “The facts of life are all about you, you, you, you!” Now onto the magic…
Facts of Life
Edna is a name of Hebrew origin meaning “one who renews”, possibly coming from the same root as “Eden” (as in garden of). Strangely, the name Garrett may be related to Garth a Scandinavian occupational name, adopted as a surname in the 20th century, meaning “keeper of a garden.”
Natalie is a name of Latin origin meaning “birthday”, referring specifically to the birth of Christ (an event that will return mankind to the lost paradise of Eden). In Christianity, Christ is considered the New Adam. The last name Green, is Old English in origin referring either to someone who lived near the village green (a kind of field) or to a person who dressed as the green-man at the May Day festival (a festival of renewal).
Joanna Marie “Jo” Polniaczek
Joanna is ultimate derived from the Hebrew masculine name “Yehôḥānān” meaning “God is Gracious”. Her middle name Marie is derived from the Hebrew name Miriam which has several possible meanings; “wished for child”, “bitterness” or “rebellious.” Her last name seems to be a made up Polish/Czech sounding name. The first part Polnia, is probably supposed to sound like Polonia, another name for Poland. Poland gets its name from its indigenous tribe, the Polans, whose name derives from the Slavic word polyana, meaning “Field” (because this tribe used to sleep in fields.)
Blair is of Scottish Gaelic origin, meaning “Field.” One of the possible derivations of Warner is “Park Keeper”. In Greek the Garden of Eden is called a “paradise,” which comes from a Persian word meaning an “enclosed park”.
Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey
Dorothy is Greek for “Gift of God” and Ramsey means “Garlic island.” In some folk myths, Satan caused garlic to sprout up behind him when leaving the Garden of Eden. Although she is the only major character whose name has nothing to do with fields the actress who played her was called Kim “Fields”!
Beverly Ann Stickle
One of the supposed meanings of the English name Beverly is also “Meadow” or “Field.” Ann is Hebrew for “favoured grace.” Stickle means a hill.
Played by Molly Ringwald, this character was only in the first few episodes. Molly is ultimately from Miriam which, as mentioned before, means “wished for child”, “bitterness” or “rebellious”. Miriam or Mary, was also the mother of Christ. In Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, she is considered the New Eve. Parker is English for “Keeper of the Park.”
A character from the first 13 episodes. Steven from Stephanos is Greek for “crown”. Bradley is originally from an Old English place name meaning “broad clearing” (ie: a field).
Andy, the diminutive of Andrew, from the Greek “Andros”, meaning Man. In this sense it is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Adam, meaning Man, specifically the name of the first Man in the Garden of Eden. His last name Moffet is Gaelic for “the long plain.” (once again, a kind of field)
The Girls attend Eastland school. In the bible, the expelled Adam & Eve are sent to the Land East of Eden.
In an attempt to get admitted into the loser hall of fame I continued the experiment with Family Matters, only to discover it was filled with symbols of Kingship! Why? Who knows?
Carl, or Charles is possibly from the German “heri” meaning “warrior.” Carl was played by actor Reginald VelJohnson (the name Reginald is Germanic for “advice” “rule”)
Harriett, is the female form of Harold, which means the “leader of the army”.
Edward “Eddy” Winslow
Edward means “Rich Guard” in Old English. The word “Rich” itself comes from a root in the European Language Family connoting, not only, wealth but also Kingship, Power and Rule.
Laura from the Latin word for “laurel” or garland, worn as a kind of crown by Roman leaders successful in military conquest. Consequently they became symbolic of the resurrected Christ’s victory over death. Ironically “garland” is also the exact meaning of the name of Laura’s unrequited lover Steven.
Judy, from Judith, Hebrew for “a woman of the tribe of Judah.” Judah is the tribe that begat the line of Kings, first King David (a warrior king) and ultimately Jesus Christ.
Rachel “Aunt Rachel” Crawford
Rachel means, Ewe (female sheep). Sheep are connected to both David & Christ, as David was a Shepard and Christ was the “lamb of god.” Crawford is from the old English Crow Ford. In Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Norse mythology, Crows were the bird of Odin the spear wielding Warrior King of the Gods. Odin hung himself on the world tree, being pierced in the side with a spear, for the gift of magic knowledge.
Richard “Little Ritchie” Crawford
Richard is Germanic, meaning “Brave Power” or “Rule Hard”
Estelle “Mama” Winslow
Estelle from the Latin Stella meaning “Star”. The six pointed star has become considered the crest of King David & it was a Star that presaged the birth of Christ.
Steven “Steve” Urkel
Steven, from the Greek Stephanos meaning crown or garland. Urkel is from the Italian Ercole, meaning Hercules (The Gloria of Hera), who was the most powerful warrior in Greek mythology.
Waldo Geraldo Faldo
Waldo was originally a short form of a Germanic name containing the element wald, meaning “rule”. Geraldo, Italian form of Gerald, Germanic for “rule of the spear” Faldo, made up!
Myra is a name created by the 17th-century poet Fulke Greville, possibly derived from myrrh, a fragrant sap used for making perfume. It is one of the gifts given to Christ by the 3 Magi (or 3 Kings if you will).
Lt. Lieu Murtaugh
Though this character was only in 19 episodes it’s interesting to note that Murtaugh is Gaelic for “warrior of the sea”
Yes, these are just a few examples of the hidden meanings embedded in our favorite tv shows. But don’t just feed off my table scarps. Go forth on your own, noble readers, and look for Alchemy in Full House, Astrology in Perfect Strangers, Palmistry in Mister Belvedere or the I Ching in Mamas Family. And then, the next time your at some fancy wine and cheese event, looking to impress some young debutant, you can tell her all about how Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter, was representative of the gnostic anthropos. Trust me, she’ll be putty in your hands.