If you haven’t watched it, you’ve definitely heard of it – Netflix’s top 10 documentary series, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” For those who may not know, “Tiger King” follows the lives of two big cat owners, Carole Baskin and Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic. Baskin and Exotic have a long-time feud due to differing ideals on how big cats should be raised and cared for. Not only do viewers learn of interactions between Baskin and Exotic, but the docuseries also highlights many of the interesting characters involved with these two big cat owners.
The plot of the series is based on a murder-for-hire plan on Joe Exotic’s end of the feud; throughout the series he makes it clear, he wants Carole Baskin out of the picture.
Baskin is the owner and operator of Big Cat Rescue in Florida and is a lobbyist against operations like Exotic’s. Her work revolves around ending the ownership of wild animals for leisure or to show-off in a zoo-like setting. After watching, many people would likely agree with Baskin’s reasoning; however, it becomes harder to stand-by her work when the series reveals some skeletons in her closet.
Exotic, who lives in Oklahoma owned the Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park. He is quite the attention seeker, doesn’t keep his opinion quiet and likes to over share on social media. Anytime Exotic could belittle or antagonize Baskin, he did. From threatening her in videos to making a company that had a logo so similar to Baskin’s that it ended in a lawsuit.
Exotic owned his zoo until his former business partner, Jeff Lowe, took it from him due to some sketchy business deals from both ends. Lowe is still benefitting from this zoo takeover, despite some jail and court time himself. Due to the murder-for-hire plot and many charges brought against Exotic which landed him in prison, staff from Exotic’s zoo have either stayed with Lowe or cut their ties with those involved in big cat ownership all together.
The series could have focused solely on big cats and the differing opinions from Baskin and Exotic; however, directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin include all aspects of their lives from past to present. The drama and source of entertainment these people gave the directors allowed for the series to explore many avenues of their lives. What started as a feud between Baskin and Exotic, ends in picking sides or choosing a new path for many people involved with big cat owners. Viewers even began to pick sides, but for some, “Tiger King” was merely a source of entertainment during a time where most of us have been asked to remain indoors.
Many of us have been quarantining for weeks and “Tiger King” has offered us a unique distraction from our reality. While a majority of the series is appalling, the twists and turns the plot offers keeps viewers hooked from episode to episode. It’s hard to wrap your head around all the things this docuseries throws at viewers; most of the concepts are things many of us have never even thought of. While it is educational, “Tiger King” gives viewers an entertainment aspect that lasts far beyond the series’ last episode. Now, there are memes surfing all social media platforms, it’s a topic of conversation through our social distancing, and keeps the viewers interested in what will happen next to Baskin and Exotic?