Before March 2020, there’s a good chance you had never heard of Joe Exotic, the “Tiger King.” Now, countless memes, stories and articles are floating around the internet with Netflix’s new sensation.
The seven-part docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” centers around the chaotic life of former zoo owner Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic. Each episode dives into the lives of those in the exotic animal-owning community including Exotic’s G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, Doc Antle’s zoo in South Carolina, and Carole Baskin’s animal sanctuary in Florida.
Throughout each episode, a whirlwind of events begin to unfold. From the suicide of Exotic’s husband, the mysterious disappearance of Baskin’s husband, Antle’s alleged sex cult, Exotic’s run for governor and the murder-for-hire hit on Baskin, the show is a twisted adult version of “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
The central plot of the show is lost in a dozen subplots that come to light one after the other. Watching the show feels like being swooped into a tornado with endless amounts of debris being thrown at you until all of a sudden you’re left bewildered by what you just witnessed.
At the start of the series, we meet Exotic, a devoted husband, animal lover, aspiring country singer and the owner of the best mullet around. Exotic seems to be the least dangerous person as he interacts with his animals, staff and husbands — yes, multiple husbands. Until we meet Exotic’s rival, Baskin, we see the questionable downfall of the self-proclaimed “Tiger King.”
Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue, publicly accused Exotic of animal abuse, leading to an epic feud. The rivalry between the two is the main focus of the series documenting Exotic’s accusations that Baskin killed her husband by feeding him to her tigers and even made a music video with a look-alike of her.
The feud escalates when Exotic’s murder-for-hire plot against Baskin is revealed. An FBI investigation ensues against Exotic’s alleged devious plan, all the while Exotic loses everything and backstabs his former business partner, Jeff Lowe.
The docuseries loses sight of the exotic animals and focuses on the outlandish characters entangled in a spiderweb of events that seem too wild to be true. Countless interviews are featured to give a closer insight of the bizarre events including former zoo employees, associates, husbands, Baskin, Antle and Lowe.
The series ends with Exotic being sentenced to 22 years in prison for two counts of murder-for-hire, nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and eight counts of violating the Lacey Act by falsifying wildlife records.
While the show provides numerous reasons why Exotic is a villain, he is left seeming as an unconventional hero at the end of the series.
From eccentric characters to odd events, it’s safe to say “Tiger King” is a series to obsess over and binge-watch. Regardless of the negative aspects within the documentary, the madness and mayhem of the series leaves you gobsmacked and yearning for more.
Release Date: March 20, 2020