After returning home for quarantine in New Jersey, I had some time to kill, before my online classes were to begin. My issue with Netflix and TV shows was that I had no idea where to begin, since I finished all my current shows, watched all the movies on my list, and rewatched my favorite old shows (out of boredom). I ended up reaching out to a few people about receiving recommendations for this quarantine period when it came to shows and movies. Out of a given seven people that I initially ended up reaching out to, six of them mentioned Tiger King. Now, I can’t say that I’ve had something like this happen before where a lot of people recommend the same show, so I took a dive into Netflix and started watching this show with one of my high school friends through Netflix Party. We did not expect the show to be the way that it ended up being.
Tiger King is a TV Show which was first released to Netflix, a streaming service, on March 20th, 2020, with one season holding seven official episodes and an additional bonus episode. The bonus episode was recently released on April 12th, 2020, which follows some of the workers and people mentioned in the initial airing, for a follow-up of where they are now. Tiger King’s synopsis on Rotten Tomatoes briefly explains that it follows a life of a zookeeper named Joe Exotic, who spirals out of control, which leads him to find a murderer-for-hire towards a woman named Carole Baskin. This show was rated to be at 85% from all critics on the website, while the top critics’ Rotten Tomato rating for the show was at 88%. Within all the talk and ratings about the show, leading it to be on Netflix’s Top Ten list for a while, we agreed to commit to watching the show.
Watching the show, I didn’t think it was going to have all the drama and crime that it actually had, which related to big cat trading, drugs, personal status, and the lengths people would go to attract attention for themselves. The show begins to point out three different notorious big cat & exotic animal collectors, with Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and Bhagavan Antle, each in a different part of the United States, with a different goal in mind, and a strong rivalry against one another.
The one big rivalry on the show was consistent to be between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. After a while, the show was great material for different memes, which are now circling the web for different reasons. However, initially, the rivalry appeared to be very intense, and neither party was going to step down and admit that they were wrong in so many ways. The rivalry and attention-seeking which was requested from each collector for the big cat attraction places seemed childish at times but also very pride-oriented. I say it was pride-oriented since each of the main collectors had their own business-oriented, sexual tensions, and personal requests that they wanted to be fulfilled by workers and their significant other(s). Adding to the drama and the different aspects, this show expressed how the business world of working with such attractive tropical exotic animals brought money and secrets into each place, which increased the attention each zoo was getting.
While everyone was recommending the show to one another, I realized the why factor as I was coming to the end of the mini-series. The why watch this show factor was primarily for the jokes which came out (thanks to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms) and secondly, for the history and information which is being presented of what exists in this country. Tiger King is classified to be a mini-series within the documentary, and crime section of film. The crime and comedy which could occasionally appear on the screen is the hook for the watchers. The one-of-a-kind experience to watch a group of these people work on something they’re so passionate about while expressing rage and arguments, with bringing potential physical injuries to each other through hire-for-murder or big cats kept viewers on the edge of their seats. Now, especially with the time that we are in quarantine, people are looking for something mind-boggling to keep their concentration occupied with something else, other than COVID-19.
My friend and I finished this show within two days (no shame), where we would binge episodes into the late nights, just to see where it was going, how each collector was going to end up (we still have yet to watch the recently released episode). I do not watch documentaries, but this documentary is one I recommend for all people of age to watch. You not only realize what makes America, the America that it is but also to give your quarantined minds a break. And as Carole Baskin says, “Hey all you cool cats and kittens…” I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy (LOL).