Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, And Madness (2020)

Rivaling big cat eccentrics see their rivalry turn dark when Joe Exotic is caught up in a murder for hire plot.

Director: Rebecca Chaiklin, Eric Goode

Cast: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Bhagavan Antle, Howard Baskin, Jeff Lowe

TV Rating: TV-MA for language, smoking, and animal harm.

Fun Fact: A fictionalized series on the subject matter is in the works.

It’s the sensation that is sweeping the nation as we are staying home more due to Covid-19. I’m not one that really get’s into television series that much and I usually get into a series long when the talk is over, and people have moved on to the next big thing. To me movies are my thing as I get my story fix in a couple of hours instead of having to devote the time to many episodes. A few of my co-workers and my wife convinced me to watch it as it was seven episodes and each one was forty-five minutes each. So, what did I do? Something I never really do as in binge watch the whole thing in two days.

We have a fascination with true crime stories and documentaries as entertainment. We see it everywhere and I think it’s because we are fascinated in the subject matter as it the subject matter is something that most people would never do. That we learn more about it in the comfort of our own home. While our true crime entertainment options are stockpiled, how does Tiger King stand out from the rest of them? Is it your same old same old documentary series?

Just when you think the show is going in one direction a giant twist happens that leaves you at a what did I just see moment. Just the way that some of these people live is fascinating in a way that you would think wouldn’t exist. When you think of a show called Tiger King, you would think of it as maybe a huge focus on big cat conservation and how different zoos work. What we get though is a steady dose of polygamy, cult like behavior, rivalry, drug use, betrayal, and failed run at being President of the USA. That’s just a little summary on some of the subject material. It’s like a higher produced episode of Jerry Springer. The thing is that it works. We get an inside view of these people’s lives and business. Isn’t that what a good documentary should do and give us a backstage pass on all of this. The series was filled over quite a few years and we get years-worth of material to see. The way it’s presented has an over the top flair to it with the people involved. Some of the moments have a light-hearted comedic feel to it while we get also our natural moments in a true crime presentation.

The people we get to know all have their own traits and no one is the exact same. The series does a good job showing how something your passionate about can turn to something in the end wasn’t what you were really trying to do in the first place. Who do you side with and who do you think is doing the right thing? These questions actually make up a good discussion if your talking about it amongst other people. It shows that some people claim they’re in it so conserve these animals while some are just in for the profits they can make. It’s interesting to see how people have what starts out as good intentions turning into something completely different.

The true star though is Joe Exotic, who is the main focus of the series. It shows his rise and fall in the big cat world. He has a popular zoo and things over the years start to happen that are not what’s best for him or business. He has a feud with Carole Baskin, who is trying to shut him down and his business. While some would try and put a mutual end to said feud, it goes a little to far with other shady people involved. As the episodes go on and more people we meet, we start to ask those questions that I have stated earlier.

Another thing the series does show is the different ways the animals are taken care of. I never get political on this site because like I have stated before it’s not this site’s purpose. If you’re for or against zoos it brings an eye-opening experience. I will admit some of the footage of the animals in their area can be a little hard to watch. There was a scene that a tiger is giving birth to cubs and someone is poking the tiger with a prod. To me that was a little unsettling in a way and there are a few and subject materials that can leave someone uneasy.

Overall, as true crime documentaries go, Tiger King is no exception. It’s an over the top adventure and we are on for the ride. The people we meet is something you need to see to believe. Every one of them have their own intentions and it’s up to you to decide who you will side with if you have the choice. For a documentary that I thought was about big cat zoos and conservation, we get something completely different and it’s enjoyable. We learn about the people’s business and what their stories are. Right now, it’s the biggest sensation of the nation and I suggest you take a look at it on Netflix if you want something to take your mind off of things going on in the world at the moment.

Verdict: Hit

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