The student body at Greendale higher education Community College is made up of high-school losers, newly divorced housewives, and old people who want to keep their minds active. Within these not-so-hallowed halls, Community focuses on a band of misfits, at the center of which is a fast-talkin' lawyer whose degree has been revoked, who form a study group and end up learning a lot more about themselves than they do about their course work.
AKA: "Big Cheddar"
Home Town: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: Businesswoman and Owner of Shirley's Sandwiches; Former Fry Cook and Homemaker.
Shirley Bennett (née Edwards) began the series as a recently-divorced woman who is taking courses at Greendale Community College to learn how to make a business out of her baking skills. Before enrolling at Greendale, Shirley was a married stay at home mom with her two sons, Jordan and Elijah. However, her husband Andre left her and the family for a stripper. It's implied that in this dark time in her life she started drinking heavily. Despite her hardships, she claims that her husband leaving was the best thing that happened to her and that attending Greendale was her first step in improving her life. She has since made up with and remarried Andre, had another child with him and opened a sandwich shop in the Greendale Cafeteria.
Shirley is a devout Baptist and is the most religious member of the study group whose surface good-natured personality belies some thinly-veiled rage issues. While she is proud to be an African American woman and a mother she tries not to be defined by just those characteristics. Her age is something she is very sensitive about as she is one of the older study group members and often tries to prove to them that she is still relevant. She becomes the "mother hen" of the group often offering unwanted advice or opinions to the other members. She admits to having a gossiping problem, one which has cost her past relationships by needlessly stirring the pot between her friends. It's been suggested by the study group that she also has a baking problem and tries too hard to be liked by baking goods for everyone. She often struggles with tolerance for the other faiths of the non-Christian members of the study group. She has gone as far as trying to covertly baptize Annie (who is Jewish) at a pool party and suggested they baptize Abed (who is Muslim) while he was in a catatonic state.
In their freshmen year together, Jeff and Shirley bond while gossiping over Britta's then-relationship with Vaughn. In the spirit of the holiday season, she also tries to persuade Jeff not to fight Mike the campus bully. In their third year at school together, they learn about a shared history together. When Shirley was twelve years old she bullied a ten-year-old Jeff during a foosball game. This incident had a profound effect on both of them as Shirley realized she went too far, gave up bullying and became a more caring person. They have made peace with each other over the past and have since developed a close relationship.
As the more compassionate members of the study group, they often take issue with many of the morally ambiguous antics of their friends. Because she is the youngest of the group, Shirley is often overprotective of her which sometimes annoys Annie (along with Shirley's various attempts to convert her to Christianity). Shirley for her part is sometimes annoyed when Annie unintentionally reminds her of their age difference as she is one of the older mebers of the study group. In spite of this, they have developed a good friendship and will often find the same things adorable. This leads to them both saying "Aww!" at the same time which has become a running gag on the show. They also have a secret handshake.
Like the other study group members, Shirley treats Abed in a motherly way. She is often unsure of what to make of Abed, and is often annoyed by his childish antics. She also questions the true nature of his relationship to Troy which has become a running gag on the show. Although impressed with Abed's powers of observation and skill as a filmmaker she is shown to be wary of it, especially when he goes too far with his abilities. In their second year together at Greendale, Abed was inspired by Shirley to shoot a religious film but took his meta concept too far and made an overproduced mess. Shirley helped him salvage his reputation by destroying his film and in the process the two came to a better understanding of each other.
Britta and Shirley get along very well despite some major differences of opinions. Britta's Athiestic beliefs sometimes annoys Shirley who is devout in her Christian faith. Even so, Britta was protective of her friend when she reunited with her ex-husband not wanting her to be hurt again and put aside her own discomfort with marriage to help Shirley plan her wedding to Andre. Shirley for her part was supportive of Britta when dealing with her romantic issues with Jeff and also taught her the importance of women bonding in the restroom. Their close friendship was demonstrated when they both gravitated towards each other when given a choice of who to be lab partners with in Biology.
Shirley has a strained relationship with Pierce and tries her best to put up with him. She recognizes that his racist and bigoted comments are done not out of hate but due to his own ignorance. In their first year together at Greendale he made unwanted advances towards her but he eventually lost interest. As the oldest members of the group they often find themselves left out of the younger members activities. Pierce's villainous actions in their second year at school led to Shirley and the rest of the study group, except Annie, to vote him out. After meditating all summer at a religious retreat, Pierce returned with a friendlier attitude, and Shirley welcomed him back to the study group. Later in their third year, Pierce and Shirley form a business partnership and open a Sandwich shop at Greendale.
Shirley mother hens Troy as much as she does the rest of the study group and is often put off by how close he is with Abed. It is later hinted that the two could see themselves as sexual options. Troy once proposed a secret alliance between the two of them to win the 2010 Paintball Assassin game before being eliminated. In their Sophomore year together at Greendale, Troy learned through a voice mail Chang sent him that he and Shirley might have hooked up during the Halloween no one could remember and kept it to himself until he could verify it. When battle lines were drawn between Troy and Abed in their Pillow and Blanket war, Shirley joined Troy's and told her husband Andre it was so that "Britta doesn't put him on the weed."
Shirley spent the entire first year at Greendale single often referencing her ex-husband in a negative light. In her Sophmore year, Shirley reconciled with and started dating her Andre. She learned she was pregnant but the baby's parentage was in question when it's learned that she had slept with Chang around the same time she reunited with her husband. Nevertheless, Andre made it clear to her that no matter who the father was he would not abandon her again and would be the father to the child. It was later confirmed that he was indeed the father. In Shirley's third year at school, Andre proposed to her again and she accepted. They were remarried in a quick ceremony in Group Study Room F.
Elijah, Jordan, and Ben are the children of Shirley and Andre Bennett. Although they are rambunctious and seem uncaring, both Elijah and Jordan have demonstrated that they have Shirley's kindness and compassion. Ellijah is named after the prophet and Jordan is named after Micheal Jordan the famous basketball player. Ben is the youngest child and his parentage came into question when it was discovered that Shirley had a brief fling with Chang. When Shirley went into premature labor during Anthropology class, Britta and Chang helped Shirley deliver the child safely. Chang conceded the baby couldn't be his child since all Chang baby's are born with tails and he didn't have one. To thank him for helping her through the birth Shirley named the child after him.
Shirley Bennett Photos
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