Review: Tiger King

 

Tiger King, Netflix’s latest fix for fans of true crime documentaries, is a wild watch and the show’s tag line ‘Murder, Mayhem and Madness’ pretty much sums it up. The seven-part series documents the rise and fall of Joe Exotic, the founder of the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, as he becomes enthralled in an obsessive rivalry with big-cat activist, Carole Baskin, that culminates with him being accused of paying a hitman to kill her.

I knew little about the big-cat community in America – however, I’d seen Exotic on Louis Theroux’s America’s Most Dangerous Pets so expected the show to be different to say the least. After one episode, I was hooked. And how could you not be? The show features much more than just tigers: missing husband conspiracies, polygamous marriages, cults and murder-for-hire charges, to name a few of the what-just-happened moments. Tiger King is compulsive TV binging at its finest (I watched it all in two days…). It’s also the perfect distraction for the present moment by escaping into Joe Exotic’s crazy and almost unbelievable world. 

Every episode, or let’s face it every minute, of the show gets more bizarre. My highlight? Joe used money from the animal park to run for both President and then Governor of Oklahoma and his campaign included strange promotional products – I won’t spoil what he puts his face on to try and get people to vote for him... It gets better, he truly doesn’t understand why he didn’t win the majority of votes from the public. Apparently not everyone thought a man accused of animal rights violations who makes online videos threatening to decapitate his rivals was presidential material. (But he did somehow win 19% of the governor vote) I also have to mention that Joe is a country singer and you’ll be happy to know the series features some of his original music videos – including one with a Carole Baskin lookalike feeding her ‘husband’ to a tiger as per Joe accusations! Seriously though, how did her extremely wealthy husband just disappear?

The drama of the big-cat community is far from over as Joe, even from prison, accuses others of being involved, in particular Jeff Lowe who conferred with the FBI to put him there. I also read that he has asked for a presidential pardon as he believes that he was framed. With the story still unravelling, there’s hope for another series to follow in the future. All the craziness and drama aside, however, the show exposes the dark world of the exotic animal industry in America, especially as Joe is also charged with euthanizing several tigers, and the extent that the people involved will go to remain on top.

 

5/5 – currently re-watching it now…spending lockdown the right way?