Directed by Rebecca Chaiklin and Eric Goode, ‘Tiger King’ is a Netflix documentary series covering the bizarre true of Zoo owner Joe Exotic, who had an intense feud with a self-proclaimed animal rights activist Carole Baskin and the shocking conclusion.
Joe Exotic was a zookeeper in Oklahoma who had a huge collection ‘big cats,’ including tigers, lions, panthers, as well as other creatures like monkeys and alligators. Joe becomes targeted by Carole Baskin, who runs a big cat rescue in Florida and whose first husband vanished under mysterious circumstances. Their feud goes from bad to worse as Joe begins to make threats against Carole. She and her husband try to sue him out of business, but Joe’s behavior becomes more erratic with each growing event surrounding his small zoo.
Aesthetically, the documentary is well-made. It has excellent production value, the cuts run appropriately, and has some very revealing undercover footage from the filmmaker’s time interviewing as of Joe Exotic’s aquaintances. I will say that the miniseries moves like a rollercoaster, but that is how this story evolves. It is zany.
There are no good guys in this story, maybe with the exception of the two GW Zoo employees who lost their limbs. Joe and his acquaintances are all thugs, criminals, and despicable people. Joe Exotic is a gigantic mess with a destructive personality. His friends, family, and enemies are no different and this documentary highlights it.
Likewise, Carole Baskin is just as terrible. While she has not been charged with anything, her first husband did vanish under suspicious circumstances. She is also the world’s largest hypocrite. Carole attack Joe, rightly, for putting his big cats in cages too small. She does the same. She attacks him, again rightly, for underpaying his employees. Her employees work for free as “volunteers.” She did her best to drain Joe dry financially and though she got the last laugh in the end, she is just as awful as Mr. Exotic.
That is what this documentary shows. When horrible people get together, horrible things happen. Drugs, animal abuse, domestic violence, cults, blackmail, and planning a murder are all on full display. Though the documentaries does not approve of any of the things their subjects engage in, it is clear the filmmakers were caught up in the zaniness of the atmosphere. From beginning to end, they are shocked and fascinated by what they are recording and I as the viewer watching it felt the same way.
PARENT CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Violence, Animal abuse, Drug, Sexual content
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my documentary reviews for ‘Unabomber: In His Own Words‘ and ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez.’ Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.