A sixth season of Community is coming soon, but unfortunately it will be without Shirley. Sony TV confirmed on Monday that Yvette Nicole Brown is leaving the community college-set comedy, which was canceled by NBC in the spring and is being revived by Yahoo. (TV Guide first reported the news.)
Brown—who starred in the show’s first five seasons as Shirley Bennett, the devout, tightly wound mother of three—says she is departing so she can tend to her sick father. “My dad needs daily care and he needs me,” Brown told the magazine. “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 praised Community executive producer Dan Harmon for being understanding about her personal situation, saying, “I can’t say enough how much I respect Sony and Dan for how they handled this profound change in my life.” In a joint statement, Harmon and fellow executive producer Chris McKenna said: “Yvette was an integral part of Community and is irreplaceable. We are sad to see her go and wish her the very best.”
This doesn’t mean that Brown won’t be seen on TV this season. She has a recurring role on CBS’ reboot of The Odd Couple, which is slated for midseason. She said the multi-camera comedy offers her a more manageable schedule than the single-camera schedule of Community. In addition, she will appear occasionally on the USA legal comedy Benched, which premieres Oct. 28.
Brown also didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to Greendale for a guest spot. (Her departure will be addressed in some manner without her presence when the season begins.) Community, of course, has weathered the departures of series regulars before—namely, Chevy Chase and Donald Glover. Jonathan Banks, who guest-starred in almost every episode of season 5, has also left to star in AMC’s upcoming Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul. To refill the halls, Community is currently casting 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.
The show will shooting season 6 later this fall.