An ‘80s Icon’s Debut Film Streaming for Free, Watch It Now

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

the legend of billie jean

Before Christian Slater charmed his way into the hearts of teenage girls everywhere in films like Heathers and Gleaming the Cube in the 1980s, he was the little brother of a rebellious teenage girl in The Legend of Billie Jean. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s streaming free on YouTube, and I implore you to grab your popcorn and settle in.

What’s Fair Is Fair

the legend of billie jean

The Legend of Billie Jean hit theaters in 1985, when I was only seven years old, and it made an indelible impression on my young, strong-willed mind even then. The story revolves around a teenage girl who only wants the world to understand that “what’s fair is fair.” 

The Set Up

the legend of billie jean

The film, written by Craig Safan and directed by Matthew Robbins, opens up on Billie Jean Davy (Helen Slater) and her brother Binx (Christian Slater — no relation), in a trailer park with their mom. As mom heads out for a date with the latest “classy” guy, the brother and sister laugh and tease each other. Shortly afterward, the teenagers have a run-in with the rich kid in their town of Corpus Christie, Hubie Pyatt. 

Hubie takes off on Binx’s brand new motorized scooter and destroys it. When Billie Jean goes to to Hubie’s father’s store to try to get compensation for the destruction, Mr. Pyatt makes sexual advances to Billie Jean, telling her she can “pay as you go and earn as you learn.” He’s gross, lascivious, and the scene easily would have turned much darker if Hubie and Binx had not interrupted them. 

Binx happens to be holding the gun from Mr. Pyatt’s register, and a wrestle ensues. The gun discharges, and Mr. Pyatt takes a bullet in the arm. 

The Legend Grows

The Legend of Billie Jeans begins to be built as Billie Jean and Binx flee from the store and race off with two of their friends in a station wagon belonging to one of their parents. Peter Coyote offers a brilliant turn, perhaps his best role, as the astute detective trying to make sense of it all. 

Billie Jean’s reputation grows as the news begins broadcasting the story of the “criminals” who held up a liquor store and shot the owner. Young people are pitted against the older generation as kids take up sides for Billie Jean. The entire town of Corpus Christie gets involved in the drama, and all Billie Jean is ever asking for is $608, enough to cover the damage to her brother’s scooter. As she says, “what’s fair is fair.” 

Reflecting Conflicts In America

The film does a wonderful job of depicting the role of gross older men chasing after young women, the juxtaposition of the rich versus the poor in America, the role the media played at the time in hyping up relatively small issues, and the impressionability of young adults. 

As Billie Jean and her motley crew of teenagers race from hiding place to hiding place, trying to clear their names while also fighting for what’s fair, Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” plays repeatedly in the background. Billie Jean buzz cuts her hair and makes a video for the news to broadcast, proclaiming once again that, “what’s fair is fair.” 

And you can’t help but root for her all while worrying she, or one of her friends, will be hurt in the madness of it all. 

Watch It Now


It is truly a pre-teen and teenage rebellion movie if ever there was one, and my 12-year-old daughter turned to me with a huge smile last weekend as the credits rolled. “That was great, Mom.”

Great. Just great. The Legend of Billie Jean belongs among the best 1980s family movies to be remembered.