Poster for Troop Beverly Hills, with a redhead Shelley Long wearing a tailored khaki uniform with a fancy car full of a troop of girls behind her


Title: Troop Beverly Hills
Released: 1989

Fix: Girl Scouts, Late ’80s, Being Rich, Girl Bonding, Incredible Fashion
Platform: Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Summary:

A soon to be divorced Beverly Hills socialite is determined to prove to her husband and herself that she can finish what she sets out to do, by becoming a den mother to a troop of Beverly Hills Girl Scouts.

FYA Summary:

Picture this: It’s 1989, and Young Sarah is a ten-year-old Girl Scout who, like, is okay with camping (especially the s’mores part) and nature but honestly would rather be watching Grease on VHS and trying to figure out what drugstore makeup would make her most resemble Olivia Newton John.

And then one fateful day at the video store, Young Sarah spotted a movie featuring a glamorous redhead and some *fabulous* looking Girl Scouts, and her life was forever changed. The Wilderness Girls of Beverly Hills were her people; their troop was squad goals before that was even a thing; and most of all, Phyllis Nefler, their fearless leader, was instantly her personal icon.

JK on the past tense—all of those things remain true for Adult Sarah!

So, Phyllis Nefler has been living a pretty vapid existence, spending her husband Freddy the Muffler Man’s money on the most AMAZING outfits (seriously, no judgement here) and loving her daughter, Hannah, without actually being invested in her life. But when Freddy decides he wants a divorce, it sends Phyllis into a frenzied identity crisis, and desperate to prove her worth to both her husband and daughter, she signs up to be the leader of Hannah’s Wilderness Girls (i.e. Girl Scout) troop.

Phyllis, of course, has no idea how to do any of the traditional activities (which enrages Velda Plendor, the leader of the Red Feathers* troop and a total psycho whose whole life revolves around being a Wilderness Girl), so she decides to guide her troop through “the wilds of Beverly Hills.” What follows is a glorious montage of earning patches like “Jewelry Appraisal,” “Grooming,” and “Shopping”; a camping trip turned sleepover at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the most incredible cookie sales campaign you’ve ever seen. Oh yeah, and there’s also plot lines involving Phyllis’ personal growth (especially when it comes to her relationship with Hannah) and how having money isn’t as important as being a good human and while that’s all honestly very sweet, I gotta say, this movie makes being rich look AWESOME.

*I know, I know. It was 1989, y’all. Let’s not even speak of Phyllis’ headdress.

Familiar Faces:

Shelley Long as Phyllis Nefler

I’m sure there were a lot of actors in the late 80s who would have nailed the style and attitude and humor of Phyllis Nefler. But Shelley Long gives her such heart, such endearing charm, that you can’t help but love her even when she’s being insanely superficial or moping around like a brat. Maybe it’s the clothes, or maybe it’s the luminous red gold of her hair (I have yet to see any other person successfully duplicate it), but Long lights up what could otherwise be a flat character and transforms her into an unforgettable heroine… and dare I say, role model?!!

Who am I kidding, Phyllis Nefler is definitely my role model.

Shelley Long, with bright red hair, standing with a group of girls, all of whom are wearing outlandishly fancy outfits

When I first saw Troop Beverly Hills, Shelley Long was the only person I recognized because I watched a lot of Cheers reruns as a kid. (Yes, growing up in the 80s was weird.) Little did I know that many of the girls in the troop would become very familiar faces! From Jenny Lewis as Hannah to Kellie Martin as Emily (the “poor” girl) to Carla Gugino as Chica (the ice queen) to Tori Spelling as a stinking Red Feather, these actors went on to have very successful careers, and yet, I will always love them best as Wilderness Girls.

I should also mention Craig T. Nelson as Phyllis’ ex/husband (Coach started the year this film came out) and the delightfully 80s cameos including Robin Leach, Cheech Marin, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Couch-Sharing Capability: Troop Meeting

Don’t you DARE watch this movie alone (unless you’re seeing it for the 100th time, then I’ll allow it). So much of the film is about bonding and pampering, which makes this the IDEAL slumber party flick. Plus you’ll need dance partners to do the Freddy and back-up singers for “Cookie Time.”

Good luck getting THAT out of your head! (You’re welcome.)

Recommended Level of Inebriation: A Bottle of Evian Champers

This is a bubbly romp of a movie, so make like Phyllis and have a glass of sparkling wine at the ready. Plus, you’ll need something to take the edge off of the SEARING JEALOUSY you’ll feel every time there’s a wardrobe change.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Khaki Riches and Cookie Dreams

Sure, some of the references might be a bit cringe or dated (will a perm be as chill-inducing to young people today?!), but I’d like to think that Troop Beverly Hills remains a timeless classic, thanks to a genuinely funny script, a singular sensation of a heroine, and its messages of self-empowerment (and dare I say self-care). You might not earn any patches for watching this movie, but you don’t need no stinking patches if you’re having a fabulous time.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.