“What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare wrote. “That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” But would it be as sweet if you happened to have the same name as a popular television character?
Since the Bard isn’t around to ponder that question, we decided to launch our own investigation, asking ordinary Americans to tell us what it’s like when their names end up on primetime. We started this regular weekly feature by contacting several women named Sue Sylvester, which is also the name of Jane Lynch’s tracksuited cheer captain on the Fox hit, ‘Glee.’ Meet the real Sues below:
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Occupation: Construction Business Development
What’s In A Name: It’s my married name. I’ve been Sylvester for 21 years. I always had to deal with Sylvester and Tweety, so this is just weird.
Her ‘Glee’ Viewing Habits: I had no expectations of liking it because I never dealt with the drama kids in high school, but I love it.
Her Reaction To First Hearing About The Character: My high-school [age] kids first told me about it and I didn’t believe it because there aren’t that many Sue Sylvester’s in the U.S.; I Google myself for fun. I was shocked. I had to look at the credits on the show to see if I knew the writers. I could have sworn they were following me around because there were so many similarities. I played volleyball when I was in school, and I’m kind of a displaced athlete-type. My son is a jock at school and he was dating the drama girl. I thought, ‘Boy, these two characters seem a lot like my son and his girlfriend.’ It was a really funny coincidence.
Sue Stories: She [Jane Lynch] did a whole song on my name on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and everybody at my work was giving me grief. I actually have a client that loves Sue Sylvester so much that she makes me talk like her. My picture is her on Facebook, so I can be really mean to people by becoming that character. I say ‘That’s the way Sue sees it,’ since she talks about herself in the third person. I also know a Jack Black and there’s a Bryan Adams in my office, so there’s a lot of people with celebrity names. I was at Best Buy last week and the guy looks at my credit card and goes, ‘Sue Sylvester, do you come in here a lot? Where do I know your name?’ So I was like, ‘do you watch Glee?’ And he was like, ‘Oh yeah! Wow!’ He was just a kid. It was funny. Also on the show her sister is named Jean. Well, that’s my sister-in-law’s name.
Her Tracksuit Philosophy: I love tracksuits, but I just tossed my Adidas away for Nike because it was just too freaky. But I’ll definitely be her for Halloween. I’m going to get a bullhorn.
Sue Backlash: American Express did a commercial that said ‘Don’t be a Sue Sylvester,’ and I got teased for that. I just think, My name is never going to be the same. She’s eclipsed me [on Google]. I kind of want my name back, you know what I mean? After a while you lose your identity. I’ve worked 25 years to get where I am today and people don’t know if they’re talking about the character or me. I love Jane Lynch, though. She’s awesome. I have a good sense of humor about it.
Sue E. Sylvester
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Occupation: Professional Fine Artist
What’s In A Name: It’s my married name. I’ve been Sue Sylvester for 41 years.
Her ‘Glee’ Viewing habits: I love it. But she’s the direct opposite of me! She’s tall. I’m short. She’s not sweet and I’m very sweet. I just wish she represented me better!
Her Reaction To First Hearing About The Character: I cracked up laughing. I crack up laughing every time I hear the name.
Sue Stories: I’ve had a few people make comments at the doctor’s office. They think it’s funny. My daughter called me Saturday night when she [Jane Lynch] was on Saturday Night Live and we just sat and laughed because she was singing ‘my name is Sue Sylvester.’ We got a big kick out of that.
Her Tracksuit Philosophy: Never! Never.
Whether She’s Ever Met Another Sue Sylvester: No, none. I don’t think there are any others here in Toldeo.
Location: Torrance, California
Occupation: Social Worker
What’s In A Name: It’s a married name. I’ve been Sylvester since 1994. I’m divorced now but I kept it because I have a son. I just kept it because it’s easier.
Her ‘Glee’ Viewing Habits: I don’t watch it. I don’t watch TV very much.
Her First Reaction To Hearing About The Character: I guess she’s an older woman? The director of the glee club? I’m not sure.
Sue Stories: I don’t really have any.
Her Tracksuit Philosophy: I don’t wear them.
Whether She’s Ever Met Another Sue Sylvester: There’s another woman who lives right by me who has the same name and I get calls for her all the time. She’s got a bunch of creditors coming after her. But I don’t really think much of it.
Do you share a name with one of TV’s favorite characters? Let us know in the comments!