Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) notably named her newborn son after Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) in Community season 2, and it was for a special reason. Whereas Shirley was an original member of the study group at Greendale Community College, Chang was never fully accepted as part of the friend circle. Instead, he served as a thorn in their side that the group would tolerate from time to time. Shirley, however, was almost forced into a lifelong link with her former Spanish professor.

In the first half of Community season 2, Shirley discovered she was pregnant and there was an assumption that the baby was a result of her reconciliation with her ex-husband Andre (Malcolm-Jamal Warner). However, Shirley had also had a one-night stand with Chang during a Halloween party earlier in the season, so she wasn’t so sure it was Andre’s child. When Chang found out, he became obsessed with the thought of becoming a parent and made a very unwelcome effort to be involved in Shirley’s pregnancy.


Shirley unexpectedly went into labor in the episode titled “Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts.” The study group, as well as Chang, were in their Anthropology class for a final exam, but they were unable to get Shirley to the hospital due to a riot on campus. Her friends stepped up to help during the labor as Britta (Gillian Jacobs) led the process with guidance from Abed (Danny Pudi). Andre arrived just in time to see the birth of the baby boy, who was clearly his. Chang glumly agreed due to the fact that all the members of his family are born with tails, which Shirley’s baby didn’t have. Even though Andre was the father, Shirley made the decision to name the baby Ben because of Chang’s assistance while she was in labor.

Shirley’s premature labor was difficult enough, but the fact that she was forced to give birth in a classroom without anyone certified in the medical field only amplified the stress. As her friends took over the physical side of the childbirth, Chang was surprisingly the one to calm her down emotionally. He told stories about the difficult birthing circumstances of his family members to take Shirley’s mind off of the situation, and it truly worked. Andre took over during the last stage of the labor, but Shirley didn’t forget what Chang did for her, hence the decision to name her new son after the man.

Shirley was portrayed as a devoutly religious woman throughout Community, and it wasn’t easy for her to admit that she had a fling with Chang while she was rekindling her romance with Andre. In the end, her good-natured demeanor got the best of her so that it was impossible not to acknowledge that Chang had her best interests at heart from the time he learned she was pregnant. It may not have worked out the way Chang wanted it, but he surely made the situation a little easier to handle. It’s just rather unfortunate that Shirley’s tribute to him landed her baby with the name Ben Bennett.

Viola Davis Recalls Criticism Of Her Looks From Other Black Actors

About The Author