Shirley Bennett is the kind of team mom we deserve. She’s loving and sweet enough to bring snacks and a first aid kit whenever the team goes on adventures, but she’s also fully capable of keeping everyone in line. Don’t let that smile fool you: Cross team mom, and you’re dead, though.
Played by the wonderful Yvette Nicole Brown, Shirley Bennett was both the Community study grou… er, team’s straight man and their voice of judgement/reason. A businesswoman, a mother, and, as Pierce said to her in his will, “A testament to our species,” Shirley’s near-total absence was felt last season, but, thankfully, we can celebrate Yvette Nicole Brown’s birthday with this wisdom-filled guide to her most quotable moments.
“Yeah, you’re both so different. Skinny bitches.”
While the fight scene between Annie and Britta in the cafeteria (and the ensuing scene later in the episode involving a vat of oil) are considered fan service paragons in the world of Community, it’s Shirley’s complete apathy towards the both of them that reminds us: Hey, wait, this fight is really stupid. Thank you, Shirley.
“So, why do you hate me and Jesus?”
You know when your parents pull the “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed” card and it actually works? Multiply that by 10 and you’ve got a fraction of Shirley’s power. No one guilt trips like Shirley. No one else knows how to cut to that quick! Here, she’s guilting Jeff into what she believes is the good, Christian thing to do. As Jeff points out, not even a homemade brownie can save you from Shirley’s guilt-tripping wrath.
“I’ll make your ass sense.”
Something the members of the study group seem to forget (except for Abed and Annie during group projects) is that Shirley and Jeff are exactly the same age. So, when Britta makes the mistake of calling Shirley a “Mother Hen,” Shirley reminds Britta that she’s the kind of mother who can and will put Britta back in line. Britta doesn’t even fear her own mother like she fears Shirley. Well-played.
“I don’t know if it’s because you’re racist or because I intimidate you sexually, but I know it’s one of those two.”
Does Shirley want to sleep with Jeff Winger? Probably not. Is she still going to call him on flirting with everyone but the woman that is his own age? Of course she is. And knowing what we know about Jeff Winger’s preferences in women, Shirley’s probably on the money with the second option.
“You can excuse racism?”
Does this even need an explanation? This is just a relevant quote. Shirley Bennett is always on point, but she seems to really hit a stride when it comes to dealing with Britta. This is arguably her best call out of the show.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
Even though she spent the majority of “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” at ends with Abed, she still bails him out of a bad situation. By going ham with a baseball bat. But it’s her quiet denial of the situation that really makes this a true Shirley moment. She’s kind enough to help Abed, but too stubborn to admit she’s not mad at him. She’s mom, basically. She is everyone’s mom.
“The sea may be cold and unforgiving, but I’m not.”
Remember that “testament to our species” quote? This is probably the origin of that statement. Despite the fact that Pierce has been petulant, bossy, and unpleasant (so… himself) during Boating Class, Shirley still decides it’s better to save him than let him drown in a parking lot. And, as the series got crazier and the shenanigans got more out of control, it might be best to look to Captain Shirley (Admiral Shirley, actually) for guidance.
“The word he’s looking for is ‘sassy.’ He better pray he don’t find it.”
No one does the 180 quite like Yvette Nicole Brown. Shirley goes from amicable in one moment to very clearly murderous in the next. And while filming the new Greendale commercial may have broken everyone else (but Abed), Shirley’s reminder that she’s sick of this school’s BS serves as a warning for the train wreck that’s coming. And the train wreck she has to deal with daily.
You kind of get the feeling that, even if this is the darkest timeline, this is probably how Shirley feels about the study group at least 50 percent of the time. Again, kudos to Yvette for delivering her line with the best possible expression imaginable. Maintaining eye contact with Britta while angrily drinking is a nice touch, as well.
We end, of course, on Shirley’s most repeated line.