When cancelled NBC sitcom Community was picked up by Yahoo! Screen in a rather remarkable eleventh-hour resuscitation, loyal fans of the beloved series likely breathed a deep sigh of relief and assumed that, finally, everything was going to be okay for the Greendale gang. Sadly, that’s not the case today, as series regular Yvette Nicole Brown has confirmed that she will not be reprising the role of Shirley Bennett in Community‘s upcoming sixth season.
Brown, who has been with Community since the start, opted to depart the show in order to care for her ailing father. Speaking with TV Guide, which broke news of the exit, she said:
“My dad needs daily care and he needs me. The idea of being away 16 hours a day for five months, I couldn’t do it. It was a difficult decision for me to make, but I had to choose my dad.”
Sony TV and executive producers Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna of course honored her request. In a joint statement, the pair said:
“Yvette was an integral part of Community and is irreplaceable. We are sad to see her go and wish her the very best.”
With Brown’s departure, Community is down to only four of its original stars – Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Danny Pudi (Jim Rash and Ken Jeong are also returning, but they were originally recurring, not regulars). The fourth season previously saw the departure of Chevy Chase, who played Pierce Hawthorne, while Donald Glover, whose Troy Barnes was a breakout fan fave, left in the midst of season five to pursue his rapping career as Childish Gambino.
The sixth season, unfortunately, will also lack a few key supporting stars. Jonathan Banks is out of the show this year due to his commitments to Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, while John Oliver will also be absent due to his hosting responsibilities on Last Week Tonight. To fill the void left by their departure, two new characters will be brought into the fold for season six – a woman brought in to help shape up the school, and a retired salesman who comes to Greendale to reinvent himself. Neither role has been cast yet.
Of course, it’s still great that Community will get a chance to air its long-demanded sixth season (#sixseasonsandamovie!), but with cast members dropping like flies, it’s deeply saddening that a character as integral as Shirley will also have to be written out.
Luckily, if there’s one thing that the past few years have shown us, it’s that Dan Harmon knows how to deliver satisfying, hilarious send-offs for his characters. In season five, he let fans have closure on Pierce’s exit in “Cooperative Polygraphy” then sent Troy off to travel the world just one episode later in “Geothermal Escapism.” Both were standout installments that rank among the series’ best, and so it will definitely be exciting to see how he deals with saying goodbye to a character as quietly instrumental to the show as Shirley.
Community will return for its sixth season at some point next year. Writing is currently under way.
Source: TV Guide