Why did Ellen Barkin leave Animal Kingdom? After tonight’s episode, we would understand you having that question … but the answer is a little bit complicated. It’s not so simple as something that she wanted. Instead, it’s more of a creative choice that worked out this way.
Speaking in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer John Wells noted that this decision came down to the writing staff wanting to ensure that there was some big drama in the fourth season, and a moment that would shake up the entire show:
“A big part of the challenge on any show is to try and keep it feeling real for the audience in the sense that it’s still fun to watch because you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen … We ended up spending a lot of time talking about: What do we do this year to keep shuffling the deck and mixing things up? It’s the animal kingdom, not everybody’s going to survive. We were feeling that we were repeating a little bit the Smurf stories. We had told the Smurf stories in the present that we wanted to tell but what we were really interested in is how did she get to be Smurf? And that led to where we ended up. We came to the realization that the thing that would shake the family up most is if Smurf wasn’t there to hold them together anymore.”
Do we think that Barkin had a fantastic final episode? Definitely, and it gave the character an exit that wasn’t something out of character. That doesn’t mean that we are happy with it, given that Smurf was a force of nature and one of the real reasons to keep watching the show. We’re interested in seeing how the Cody family functions without one of the sole reasons that they were together. Do they all splinter apart now? How does that go from here?
It does sound like there are still plans to use Smurf flashbacks from here on out to give out more of a sense of the family’s origins … but we don’t really understand the purpose of that. The flashbacks have been great as of late, but they only tell a part of the story. It all feels full-circle now.
Are you going to miss seeing Ellen Barkin on Animal Kingdom?
Be sure to share in the comments, and remember to stick around to get some other news on the series. (Photo: TNT.)