NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16:  Ellen Barkin attends the 2018 Turner Upfront at One Penn Plaza on May 16, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
TV - Movies
The Real Reason
Ellen Barkin Left
Animal Kingdom
The TNT drama "Animal Kingdom," suddenly killed off Ellen Barkin’s character Smurf in the penultimate episode of Season 4. After such a shocking departure, it was inevitable that fans would wonder why Barkin really left the show. The answer is complicated, as there are at least two sides to this story.
On Aug. 13, 2019, "Animal Kingdom" executive producer John Wells sat down with Entertainment Weekly, and he was diplomatic about the reason why Ellen Barkin’s Smurf was written off the show. According to Wells, the decision was made as a way to shake things up and keep the show fresh.
The Show’s Reason
Barkin’s reaction to this explanation was one of bitterness and she has continuously suggested that her departure was involuntary and steeped in ageism. She also indicated that her male costars supported the decision to write her off the show, replying to a fan who asked about the male cast members' thoughts on the departure by simply saying "some held the door..."
Barkin’s Reason
Even before Smurf made her last appearance on "Animal Kingdom," Barkin was very open with her fans on Twitter about her concerns over ageism on-screen. Barkin said that her character was supposed to have a more explicit sex scene with Lila Cole but said it was cut because of the trend of “ no sex for older women" in television and film.
In Season 4 the producers of the show introduced a younger and conventionally attractive version of Smurf, Janine, which can be seen as a replacement for 67-year-old Barkin. They also introduced 67-year-old Charlayne Woodard but was her casting proof that the producers weren’t ageist or did they simply switch one older female character for another?
Was Ageism The Reason?