[TV REVIEW] Back-stabbing and tigers and murder (oh my)


Fair Use Image: Netflix

Joe Exotic is the owner of the GW Zoo, home to many big cats, in Oklahoma. The documentary follows his never-ending quarrel with Carole Baskins and the law

Upon its release, with the COVID-19 pandemic and cabin fever growing, the seven-part Netflix documentary immediately became a much-needed break from the 24-hour news cycle. The documentary, named Tiger King after the reality show that never was surrounding the enigma that is Joe Exotic, follows a couple of different exotic zoos with varying approaches and how that has led the big cat community to become a wild west of sorts. From the first minute until the end, the documentary is a car crash that you just can’t look away from. The only way to really describe the events that took place on the show is bizarre. Really, really bizarre.
Over the course of the documentary, the audience is introduced to countless characters. Somehow, seemingly every single character in the show is as unlikable as a mid-April snowstorm. The main plotline of Tiger King follows Joe Exotic, a very charismatic albeit lunatic owner of the GW Zoo, and Carole Baskins, a hypocritical and creepy owner of rival Big Cat Rescue. The hatred between Baskins and Exotic runs very deep as Baskins views the GW Zoo as immoral due to the habitats and monetization of its tigers. Because of this, Joe Exotic makes Baskins his sworn enemy and the documentary follows Exotic as he makes outrageous claims, frequent death threats, a run for office, and objectively funny music videos.
However, while that storyline serves as the main course for the documentary, the appetizers are just as delicious. In the seven episodes, we meet many characters including a cult leader, a TV producer, a mysterious arsonist, a zookeeper who had their arm bitten off, a Walmart cashier/campaign manager, a family who lost their inheritance, a missing husband, a snitch, and even the inspiration for Scarface (who ironically is arguably the most likable and normal despite also having major red flags) just to name a few.
The large virality of Tiger King made the documentary the #1 most-watched piece of content on Netflix and quickly became a part of pop culture making social media buzz with reactions, and mostly memes about the show. Because of the documentary and discussion around it, multiple criminal cases have been reopened, with the current president Donald Trump making news that he will consider a pardon for one of the characters currently in jail.
Overall, Tiger King starts out as a documentary about people who own majestic, big cats leading them to fight. However, as the curtain is pulled back it reveals that the cats have little to do with the conflict that can instead be attributed to lunatics who get so caught up in a petty war that they’d rather see their rival zoo hurt than others succeed. It’s wild storylines and seemingly fictional characters ensure that your eyes are glued to the screen from the start up to the very end. Because of this, Tiger King is a must-watch and an early favorite for show of the year.

p.s. Carole Baskins definitely killed her husband.