35 of the Best Shirley Bennett Episodes of ‘Community’ to Watch on Mother’s Day
Happy Mother’s Day to all the awe-inspiring moms out there!
I love Community and think it is one of the greatest shows of all time. With Community now streaming on Netflix and today being Mother’s day, I thought it would be cool to take a second to appreciate Yvette Nicole Brown’s character, Shirley Bennett.
One of the main reasons the series is undeniably great is due to the cast and how well they work together, but also how well they’re able to stand on their own over the course of the show. Interestingly enough, my mother’s name is also Shirley and she shares a lot of similar traits to the character (if you’re reading this mom, I’m sorry haha). Shirley Bennett is very motherly to Troy, and a lot of the things she does feel authentic to what a Black mom would say/do in regards to their young adult son.
Although Brown did not return for the final season (aside from a few brief cameos), by the end of her story arc we saw the character go from a recently divorced broken women who didn’t truly believe in herself or her skills, to a savvy independent business woman while never losing any of the qualities that made us fall in love with her in the beginning.
Some of these episodes are essential to Shirley’s character and have some of her best motherly moments from the series even if she isn’t in the specific episode that much. If you haven’t watched the series, I highly recommend you do so before jumping around to these different episodes. Please be warned that there are big spoilers about the series, specifically things revolving around Shirley’s character. But if you’ve seen the series already and just want to revisit some of Shirley’s best moments, this is the list for you.
Check out the list and brief synopsis about the episodes below:
“Football, Feminism and You” – Ep. 6
Jeff talks Troy into playing for the college’s football team, sparking Annie’s anger. Pierce helps the dean come up with a new mascot and Britta tries to become Shirley’s bathroom friend. Shirley opened Britta’s eyes and became the type of friend Britta was severely missing.
“Environmental Science” – Ep. 10
Jeff hangs out with Senor Chang to get out of an essay, angering the rest of the group. Meanwhile, Abed and Troy search for their missing lab mouse, and Pierce helps Shirley with a presentation. This episode is when we start to see Shirley believe in herself and her skills as a speaker and as a business woman. Ironically enough, it was Pierce who brought that fire out of her.
“Comparative Religion” – Ep. 12
Shirley throws a Christmas party for the gang and much to her surprise, learns her classmates come from various religious backgrounds. Meanwhile, Jeff is challenged by the school bully and faces the reality that he may fail Spanish 101.
“Basic Genealogy” – Ep. 18
It’s Family Day at Greendale. Pierce tries to build a relationship with his stepdaughter, but she has eyes for Jeff instead. Britta gets in trouble with Troy’s Nana, and Shirley’s kids cause problems for Abed’s father. By the end of the episode, Shirley’s kids end up doing a good thing for Abed’s younger cousin which is a testament to her skills as a mother and raising respectable young men.
“Beginner Pottery” – Ep. 19
Jeff signs up for a pottery class for an easy credit, but winds up failing the class when his jealousy of another student gets the best of him. Meanwhile, Pierce’s incompetence almost ruins the group’s grade in boating class, but thanks to Shirley’s leadership they succeed.
“The Science of Illusion” – Ep. 20
Britta’s April Fool’s Day prank has disastrous consequences, but she refuses to confess that she was responsible. Annie and Shirley temporarily work as security guards, but both of them want to be the “bad cop.”
Throughout the first season it is established amongst the group that Annie and Shirley are the safe and tame ones. So when put in this interesting position to breakout of their normal character archetypes, it creates some hilarious yet enduring back and forth between the pair.
“The Art of Discourse” – Ep. 22
Shirley gets Pierce kicked out the study group, Jeff and Britta plot revenge on a group of high schoolers who make fun of them for attending community college, and Troy helps Abed accomplish some of his movie-clichéd social goals.
“Modern Warfare” – Ep. 23
Greendale Community College is transformed into an apocalyptic war zone when the dean promises the winner of a paintball competition priority registration, and it could fan the flames of sexual tension between Jeff and Britta. This is easily one of Community’s best episodes and the fact they give Shirley the prize so she can spend more time at home with her kids is the perfect cherry on top!
“Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” – Ep. 5
Shirley asks Abed to make a film about Jesus, but he quickly angers Shirley by turning it into a self-indulgent mess. Meanwhile, Pierce begins blowing off the study group to hang out with the “hipsters.”
“Cooperative Calligraphy” – Ep. 8
Chaos and mistrust tear the study group apart as they try to figure out who stole Annie’s pen, causing them to miss the Greendale Puppy Parade.
“Asian Population Studies” – Ep. 12
Annie lobbies for her new crush, who is also Jeff’s rival, to join the study group, but a jealous Jeff counters with Chang. Meanwhile, Shirley announces that she’s pregnant, but she doesn’t know that it could be Chang’s.
“Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy” – Ep. 18
Jeff uses Shirley’s parental rights waiver against Chang as a way to get Chang out of the apartment, while Britta is afraid to tell Abed and Troy that their new friend is a war criminal.
“Paradigms of Human Memory” – Ep. 21
As the study group gathers to assemble their 20th and final Anthropology diorama of the year, they begin reminiscing about their favorite times together – including a trip they made to a western ghost town, a last minute glee club performance and the array of costumes that Dean Pelton has managed to wear over the year. Meanwhile, Troy’s pet monkey returns, only to disappear back into the school’s ventilation system.
“Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts” – Ep. 22
When the Anthropology class assembles for their final exam, Shirley notices a twinge, which quickly escalates into full-blown labor. As Jeff and Britta argue about how best to help, Chang is anxious to claim this “early” labor as clear evidence that it’s a “Chang Baby!” Meanwhile, Greendale is hosting a World Food Festival in the parking lot and a riot ensues – Dean Pelton is caught in the crossfire.
“A Fistful of Paintballs & For a Few Paintballs More” – Ep. 23 & 24
In a “spaghetti western” parody, Pierce tries to get revenge on the rest of the study group during this year’s paintball tournament. When the study group learns that there’s a sinister plot behind the paintball tournament, they unite the remaining players to defeat the enemy.
“Remedial Chaos Theory” – Ep. 4
At Abed and Troy’s housewarming party, Jeff decides to let the decision on who gets the pizza rest on the roll of the dice, leaving Abed to contemplate six alternate realities.
“Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism” – Ep. 9
Shirley teaches Jeff foosball so that he can beat a team of cocky, obnoxious Germans. Meanwhile, Annie creates an overly elaborate ruse so that she doesn’t have to tell Abed that she broke his special edition The Dark Knight DVD. This episode features a pretty badass and hilarious anime inspired animation sequence, and shows us a glimpse of Shirley’s past as a kid and the struggles she had to deal with.
“Regional Holiday Music” – Ep. 10
A holiday-themed parody of “Glee” in which Abed tries to persuade each member of the Study Group to join the glee club so that they can qualify for regionals.
“Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” – Ep. 11
Pierce comes to Shirley with a business proposal just as she’s about to get married to Andre. Meanwhile, Troy and Abed try to act “normal” for the wedding, Britta discovers a new skill, and Jeff struggles with his toast.
“Digital Exploration of Interior Design” – Ep. 13
Shirley and Pierce recruit Britta to sabotage the new Subway restaurant in the cafeteria. Jeff finds a hate-letter in the school locker he never realized he had. Troy and Abed begin constructing a pillow fort, but thanks to some outside manipulation Troy splits off to build his own blanket fort.
“Basic Lupine Urology” – Ep. 17
Presented like an episode of Law & Order (1990), the study group attempts to find out who squashed their biology project: a yam. Troy and Abed become detectives, Shirley is their boss, Jeff and Annie pose as prosecuting attorneys, while Pierce is an informant and Britta a lab tech.
“Introduction to Finality” – Ep. 22
Jeff faces an old nemesis as Shirley and Pierce square off in Greendale court, Abed succumbs to his evil alter ego, and Troy decides to meet his destiny at air conditioning school.
“Conventions of Space and Time” – Ep. 3
At the Inspector SpaceTime Convention, Abed finds a new “soulmate,” Jeff discovers he looks like one of the show’s villains, Shirley and Pierce join a focus group, and Annie pretends to be Jeff’s wife.
“Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations” – Ep. 5
While Jeff and Britta spend Thanksgiving with Jeff’s newly-discovered father and brother, the rest of the Study Group tries to escape from Shirley’s dysfunctional family Thanksgiving celebration.
“Economics of Marine Biology” – Ep. 7
Dean Pelton and Annie try to land a “whale” student while Jeff is assigned to keep Pierce occupied. Meanwhile, Troy and Shirley take a physical education education course, and Abed creates a fraternity to annoy the dean.
“Herstory of Dance” – Ep. 8
While the dean sets up a Sadie Hawkins dance, Britta puts together a competing Sophie B. Hawkins dance. Meanwhile, Abed is set up with two dates to both dances by Annie and Shirley.
Fun Fact: Brie Larson (a.k.a. Captain Marvel) has a small role in this episode!
“Basic Human Anatomy” – Ep. 11
When Annie and Shirley learn that Leonard is actually holding the spot as the class valedictorian, they join forces to bring him down. Meanwhile, Troy and Abed reminisce about one of their favorite body switching films, Freaky Friday, and when they inadvertently re-enact a critical scene, things start becoming a little funky at Greendale.
“Cooperative Polygraphy” – Ep. 4
After Pierce’s unexpected passing, a team of investigators headed by the no-nonsense Mr. Stone arrives at Greendale to subject the study group to lie detector tests before they can be considered for distributions under the will.
“Geothermal Escapism” – Ep. 5
As a going-away present to Troy before his around-the-world trip, Abed sets up a high-stakes game of “Hot Lava” at the college, but Britta suspects that the game is just masking his real feelings about Troy’s departure.
“App Development and Condiments” – Ep. 8
When developers beta test a new app with Greendale students, the campus soon descends into a dystopian society where status is determined by their app standing.
“VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing” – Ep. 9
Whilst cleaning the storage room Jeff, Hickey and Shirley find a pile of unused hidden textbooks and plot a way to make the best out of it. Meanwhile, Annie and Abed are trying to find a new roommate.
“Basic Sandwich” – Ep. 13
When the group learns about Greendale’s first dean, they embark on a mission to find his old computer lab; Subway enlists Chang to spy on the group as part of its plan to take over the school.
Did your favorite Shirley Bennet episode make it on the list? If not, let us know your favorite in the comment section below!