This has definitely been a rollercoaster year for Community. After being cancelled by NBC and then revived by Yahoo for a sixth season, the show will sadly be returning without Shirley Bennett.
It’s been confirmed that Yvette Nicole Brown is stepping down from Community in order to care for her father, who is unwell. “My dad needs daily care and he needs me,” Brown told TV Guide. “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.”
Brown has been playing devoted mother and devout Christian Shirley for five seasons now, but her departure from Community hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a future guest spot. She isn’t disappearing entirely from TV either, as a recurring role on CBS’ The Odd Couple reboot (which debuts midseason) offers her a more flexible schedule than Community. She will also appear on the legal comedy Benched, which premieres in the US on October 28. Nonetheless, Brown has stated that Community executive producer Dan Harmon has been very understanding about her situation.
Of course, Brown isn’t the first series regular to have left the show – previous departures have included Chevy Chase and Donald Glover. And despite Jonathan Banks’ recurring appearances on Community’s fifth season, he has also left to appear in Better Call Saul, AMC’s upcoming Breaking Bad prequel. According to Entertainment Weekly, Shirley’s departure will be addressed when the season begins, and Community will cast two new characters – ‘a female consultant who is tasked with helping to shape up Greendale and a retired salesman who seeks to reinvent himself at the school.’
There is no official word yet on when the sixth season of Community will premiere.