By Kaitlyn Bonomo
Zoo operator, politician and reality T.V. star—over the years, Joe Exotic has held quite a few titles. And as “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” has taken over computer screens and provided some much needed quarantine entertainment, the fan favorite can now add another one to his resume: the King of Netflix.
“Tiger King,” which made its Netflix debut on March 20, remains a top trending show on Netflix, captivating viewers with its bleach blonde mullet sporting, gun-slinging leading man.
The documentary follows the life of the self-proclaimed “big cat enthusiast,” who runs sanctuaries for lions, tigers and other wild animals. The exploitation and mistreatment of these animals is represented throughout the docuseries, as tiger cubs are passed around for photos and bred for profit.
With an impressive collection of 227 cats, two husbands and a sworn enemy, Carole Baskin, there is a lot going on for Joe Exotic. The owner of the Greater Wynnewood Zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, Exotic’s vibrant personality was made for television, providing entertainment and comedic relief.
Baskin, who is constantly decked out from head to toe in animal print, is Exotic’s nemesis. As the owner of Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit sanctuary for abused and neglected exotic big cats, in Tampa, Fla, she alleges that Exotic takes advantage of his animals, dedicating her own time and money to taking him down.
Viewers are taken through the ramifications of going against someone like Exotic, whose hysterical antics and fierce way with himself intensifies the docuseries just as much as his crimes. Through internet parodies, flying helicopters and obtaining diary entries, Exotic and Baskin’s rivalry takes some wild turns.
“Tiger King” exposes the world of tiger cruelty—while it may appear that people like Baskin and Exotic are providing a sanctuary for endangered animals, they are only contributing to the problem. The show focuses on the erratic personalities more than the abuse behind them, making “Tiger King” more of an entertainment docuseries than one that raises awareness.
The outlandish documentary features unforgettably striking (yet usually hilarious) one-liners that will force you to hit rewind just to process what was said. The documentary includes interviews from a variety of people that are involved with Exotic or Baskin, which effectively expands the storyline and immerses viewers into the outrageousness of their lifestyles.
After watching “Tiger King,” it is impossible to see Baskin’s name and not read it in the southern, vengeful voice of Exotic. All of the drama and unbelievable chaos that made the docuseries so enjoyable could not be condensed into a film. If you are looking for an addictive quarantine binge-watch, the seven episodes will keep you equal parts entertained, appalled and distracted.