The halls of Greendale Community College just became a bit less bubbly and quite a bit darker. Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays sandwich shop owner and study group member Shirley Bennett on NBC-now-Yahoo! Screen’s Community, has announced that she will be leaving the series, TV Guide reports. The actress was asked to be released from her contract with the show due to family concerns, specifically caring for her father, who is ill.
The decision came down to the number of hours in the day, sadly. With a densely packed series like Community, the 16-hour work day that came attached with that type of series simply was not feasible when it meant being away from her father for that long a time.
It was a difficult decision for me to make, but I had to choose my dad.
Community’s showrunner and executive producer Dan Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna were very supportive of Brown’s decision, saying:
Yvette was an integral part of Community and is irreplaceable. We are sad to see her go and wish her the very best.
Sony Pictures, which produces Community, for their part, have been very accommodating to Brown’s needs, giving her the opportunity to take a part on CBS’ The Odd Couple, which Sony also produces and will premiere midseason. The series’ more traditional multi-camera sitcom approach will allow Brown more flexibility to attend to the needs of her father.
While she doesn’t know how Shirley will be written out of the show, she does say she’s open to guest appearances should Harmon want to incorporate them into the series, adding:
I’m glad it won’t be hard for them to explain where she is. She has three kids, a degree and a business. There are a lot of ways to explain her [departure].
Brown is the fourth cast member in the past two years to exit the underdog show. Chevy Chase, who portrayed Pierce Hawthorne, left at the end of season 4 amid contentious circumstances, particularly his dissatisfaction with the show’s writing and his clashes Dan Harmon. Donald Glover, who played the Troy half of the beloved duo Troy and Abed, exited the show five episodes into the fifth season to concentrate on his rapping career with Childish Gambino. And Jonathan Banks, who played Professor Buzz Hickey, will be joining AMC’s Better Call Saul, a spin-off of Breaking Bad.
Brown’s ending remarks indicate that she’ll always be a Greendale Human Being at heart.
I’m still Community’s biggest fan and I’ll still live Tweet episodes. It’s very bittersweet. I can take care of my dad but won’t be with my TV family. I don’t want the fans to worry; it’s going to be fine. Greendale is the heart of the show, not any particular character. Even if characters come and go, the heart of Greendale remains.
While it’s heartening that Brown is open to a guest appearance—either to clear up why Shirley is leaving the study group or for a guest spot down the road—I hate to see her go.
While much of the comedy surrounding her character on the show focused on her judgmental nature as a Christian, she did often serve as a nice balance to the other characters on the show, who can be acerbic, sarcastic, and cynical. Further, the producers gave her some shining moments in season five that made me hopeful for Shirley for the sixth season.
With only four original members of the study group left—Joel McHale’s Jeff Winger, Alison Brie’s Annie Edison, Gillian Jacobs’ Britta Perry, and Danny Pudi’s Abed Nadir—I really hope the sitcom doesn’t hemorrhage any more characters between now and the season six premiere.
Community season six is set to premiere sometime toward the end of the year on Yahoo! Screen. CBS’s The Odd Couple premieres sometime in 2015.
Via: TV Guide