A Review of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

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All Paintings by Leedy Corbin '20

Recently, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness on Netflix has been all the rage among teens and adults alike. The reality-tv-esque documentary series follows the lives of well-known people in the exotic animal world. Joe Exotic — not his real name — , the owner and operator of a private zoo in Oklahoma that housed over 50 different animal species including 200 big cats, and Carol Baskin, the CEO of a non-profit big cat sanctuary, are the main characters of the show. What starts as a feud between the two big cat lovers quickly becomes an emotional investigation into their respective backgrounds and hateful relationship between them. . As the series progresses and we learn about accusations of murder, illegal activities, and mistreatment of animals, the viewer sees that there are a number of wrongdoings on both sides and may struggle to decide which of the antagonists is the lesser of two evils.

All Paintings by Leedy Corbin ’20

This show is everything you could have asked for of a quick binge–gripping, informative, full of diverse characters, and entertaining. Each episode contains a new twist, whether it is interviews about the lure of tigers and the exotic pet trade, or conspiracy theories about what happened to Carol Baskin’s husband. Tiger King is a roller-coaster ride\; just when I thought the story could not get any more twisted, it did, and constantly left me thinking, “that did not just happen!” For example, even in the first few minutes of the show when Joe Exotic described himself as a “gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet” while wearing a bedazzled leopard print button down, I couldn’t help but google whether this man was real or a charade.
Despite its entertaining qualities, the show did not fully meet my expectations when the episodes began veering away from the story of Joe Exotic, the supposed Tiger King, to investigating conspiracy theories about Carol Baskin and her Big Cat Rescue organization. An entire 46 minute long episode is focused on exposing her past, which I found to be interesting, but an unnecessary sidestep from the main plot.
Overall, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness was just as chaotic as the title would suggest. Although its story-line was sometimes derailed by following evidence-less leads, it was still well-made, captivating, and highly entertaining. For anyone who is looking for a show that will leave you on the edge of your seat and wanting more after each episode, this is the perfect series for you.