The lines between what Jessie Spano and Nomi Malone did in Las Vegas are blurred during Season 2 of Peacock’s Saved by the Bell revival, which pays homage to Elizabeth Berkley Lauren‘s iconic role in the cult classic Showgirls.
Released in 1995 with a rare NC-17 rating, the erotic drama centered on a street-smart drifter (Lauren) who ventured to Sin City to become a showgirl. Though the movie was widely panned at the time and made nary a dent at the box office, it has since found a second life on basic cable, where it has played ad nauseam since the mid ’90s.
Over the years, several critics have reevaluated Showgirls as a social satire. One critic even referred to it as “a misunderstood gem.”
That brings us to back to Bell. During Season 2, Episode 6, which takes place at Bayside’s annual career fair, Kelly and Lisa encourage Jessie to engage with a firefighter who’s been eyeing her up and down all afternoon. The divorcee changes into a low-cut top, a fringe jacket and a cowboy hat (look familiar?) and walks over to flirt with him, but overcompensates when she starts dancing. She swings her leg around the fire pole and accidentally kicks him square in the face, breaking his nose.
Later on, Slater assures Jessie that she has nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, she might have come off as “extreme,” but she was only “following the directions” she had been given — “and those directions were crazy,” he says.
Reflecting on this surreal piece of satire, Lauren tells TVLine that she always envisioned parodying Showgirls on Saturday Night Live — not on Saved by the Bell. “I had always thought it would be fun to do some sketch comedy,” she says. But when executive producer Tracey Wigfield and writer Yamara Taylor approached her with their idea for Episode 6, she had but one request, which she details in the TVLine Q&A above.
It was definitely a “meta moment,” Lauren recalls. “Definitely a full-circle moment. And definitely, in certain ways, a sort of healing, because comedy can help you reclaim a narrative of sorts.”
What did you think of Saved by the Bell‘s Showgirls sendup — and of Season 2 overall? Watch the interview above, then drop your thoughts in a comment below.