‘Tiger King’ Review

Charlize Quinto, Staff Writer

As the world shuts down in response to the global pandemic, people are watching Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. This docu-series on Netlfix has gained the most traction on social media over the recent weeks. I was one of those people, unfortunately, who binge-watched this gut-wrenching documentary.

In seven staggering episodes, the docu-series takes you in a world full of crazy, cat-owning (and exploiting) people in rural America. 

The leading man, Joe Exotic, is an unconventional zookeeper of tigers, lions, and other kinds of big cats in Oklahoma. He ends up in jail for being connected in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his rival, Carol Baskin. Baskin is an animal rights advocate and owns Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, an animal sanctuary dedicated to big cats. She shares the same passions with Joe: both are very, very fond of big cats. However, as the opposite, Baskin’s career is dedicated to outlawing the ownership of exotic cats. Joe Exotic’s zoo facility (the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma) is one of Baskin’s targets.

Not only does Joe and Baskin’s rivalry center the series but also the bizarre, outlandish personalities who work for Joe; the mysterious disappearance of Baskin’s husband; Joe’s desire to become a reality TV star, which involves hiring Rick Kirkham, a former “Inside Edition” reporter; and his mortifying attempt running for President, in hopes to become a notable political figure.

“Tiger King” is a comedic, hard-to-believe documentary and it did not fail to shock many of its viewers; hence its popularity. I found it quite difficult to stomach some moments in the series because of how problematic and unpleasant the “characters” are. It is ridiculous to think that this is all based on true events.

Initially, I was expecting the docu-series to be about an exposé on people’s obsession with owning wildlife. However, the series did not focus on the abuse and ownership of exotic animals, as it should have. Rather, the series is entirely for the chain of events surrounding Joe Exotic’s problematic, chaotic, and “exotic” life. Although, as unsettling the docu-series is, it is impossible to take your eyes off the absurdity of it all.

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