Controversial Thriller Flop Finds Cult Following On Streaming

By Robert Scucci | Published

Showgirls is one of those films that epically failed upon its theatrical release, but has experienced a critical and commercial renaissance in recent years. Due to its inherently explicit nature and NC-17 rating, the film never had a chance to be successful back in 1995 because of its problematic premise and poor critical reception. Widely regarded as one of the worst movies of all time, Showgirls became a massive commercial success thanks to its home video sales after it made its initial theatrical rounds. 

Showgirls Celebrates Massive Success In Physical Media Sales

Though Showgirls was a commercial failure that earned only $37.8 million against its reported budget of $45 million back in 1995, it has since earned over $100 million in the home video market, making it one of MGM’s all-time bestsellers.

Post-theatrical sales all but cemented Showgirls’ legacy as a legendary cult film that boasts gratuitous amounts of full-frontal nudity while celebrating the most horrible people you’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering. But like any other controversial film that becomes a highly revered staple in the cultural zeitgeist, it’s worth a watch because it’s hard to ignore its cultural impact, for better or worse. 

Elizabeth Berkley As Nomi Malone

Centered on Elizabeth Berkley’s Nomi Malone, Showgirls thrusts its viewers into the world of exotic dancers on the Las Vegas Strip. While the narrative primarily focuses on a runaway prostitute’s journey from poverty to prominence, we’re told a harrowing story about the backstage and behind-the-scenes drama that’s wholly removed from the public eye.

From Nomi’s sexual advances that resemble Mortal Kombat fatalities to multiple references to monkeys defecating on stage left, Showgirls shamelessly exploits the senses in every conceivable way. 

No Likable Characters

But what makes Showgirls so difficult to watch is the fact that there is not a single likable character in the film.  Not only is Nomi the worst kind of opportunist in Showgirls, she’s also a product of her environment and upbringing. No matter how many people try to help her fully realize her wish to live out the American Dream, her decisions are questionable at best and malicious at their very worst. But when you consider the fact that her cutthroat countenance is directly correlated to her willingness to subject herself to various levels of humiliation, she ultimately becomes a sympathetic character in this context. 

Showgirls Deserves Its Low Rating

Showgirls currently resides in the trenches of Rotten Tomatoes with a 23 percent critical score, and this is an accurate assessment. Aside from the ambitious choreography that plays out during the more complex dance sequences, the film is misogynistic, unfiltered in its sexuality, and the scene that was cut from its third act to secure an R-rating on the home video front makes you wonder why it was ever considered a good idea to film in the first place. Retroactive reviews give Showgirls a more favorable assessment, and go so far as to consider the film a serious satire. This assessment is categorically not true because good satire is supposed to make light of its subjects while providing an out. But there is no escape from Showgirls’ willingness to make you uncomfortable throughout the course of its 131-minute runtime.

Stream Showgirls For Free On Tubi

But still, Showgirls earned its legacy as one of the most controversial movies of all time. If you want to arrive at your own conclusion, you can stream this masterpiece of questionable cinema on Tubi. Just don’t tell us that we didn’t warn you, and watch at your own risk.