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Netflix’s New Documentary “Tiger King” Leaves A Lot to Unpack

Like a lot of girls my age, I have a strange affinity for all things True Crime. And like the rest of the world right now I am self-isolating due to COVID-19 and trying my best to keep busy – or at least stay entertained. Enter Netflix’s new documentary series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

To say this documentary is nuts would be a gross understatement. From the poster and trailer, viewers may think they have a clue as to what comes next but trust me when I say you’ll be thrown for a loop. If you weren’t already invested with the characters and crazy storylines be prepared to settle in since there’s an additional TV series starring Kate McKinnon in the works. That being said, let’s begin to unpack some of the most outrageous moments and theories from the fever dream that is Tiger King.

Did Carole kill Don?

No need to beat around the bush when it’s what we’re all wondering. The disappearance of Carole Baskin’s multimillionaire husband, Don Lewis, definitely raised some eyebrows and the rumour of Carole feeding him to the tigers became a major bone of contention between the rival zoo owners throughout the series. There isn’t any proof pointing to another suspect other than Carole herself. The restraining order, deserted van and staging of the will – all very concerning. In most True Crime shows it’s easy to pin the murder on someone when they may be socially inept or unlikable. Carole’s saving grace, however, is that she is just as unsettling and villainous as any other character in the documentary.

Mahamayavi Bhagavan “Doc” Antle

Okay now, this guy deserves his own spinoff because his hippy-dippy harem and zoo require some serious investigating. The episode featuring testimonials from Barbara Fisher, Antle’s former employee known as Bala, is especially unnerving. How Antle brags about recruiting these women from the young age of eighteen and policing their bodies from diet to appearance and clothing choices will make your stomach churn. Early on in the series, we are warned of the danger and lunacy that surround the lovers of big cats, but it appears that each of these zoos have a hierarchy with cult-like power dynamics. Most employees do not receive fair wages or proper accommodations making it easy for people like Doc and Joe to manipulate the vulnerable. Who knew tiger cubs had so much pull?

The Death of Travis Maldonado

The accidental death of Joe Exotic’s husband, Travis Maldonado, via self-inflicted gunshot wound was definitely one of the more sombre moments of the documentary. With ideas like Murder-for-Hire floating around and casual – should we say borderline playful – gun use by intoxicated individuals, a tragic accident like this seemed unavoidable. Extremely preventable, Travis’s death taught us a great deal about the loose restrictions around gun control and lack of knowledge in terms of gun safety and education in the United States.

Jeff Lowe

I don’t know about the rest of you cool cats and kittens but this man scares me way more than Carole Baskin ever could. Like, if anyone would be okay with feeding you to the tigers, it’s probably him. Jeff was one of the lucky ones of the series to avoid being entangled with the Murder-for-Hire plot and facing repercussions for his shady business endeavours. Towards the end of the documentary, Jeff is made out to seem like he’s got the upper hand. No jail time, a fresh start with a brand-new zoo, a baby on the way (I think we all threw up a little when he was picking out the nanny) – it truly does pay to be a con man.

While these are just a few takeaways from the series and I can only imagine what more will come to life with a possible second season on the horizon, it’s safe to say I have zero plans to purchase a tiger and start a zoo of my own. Oh and Carole definitely did it.

Alexandra Geitz

Wilfrid Laurier '20

Alex is a third-year English and Communication Studies major and writer for HCWLU. You can usually find her avoiding a large TBR pile of academic journals wishing she was at the beach reading fiction instead!
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