This review contains mild spoilers but as it is a documentary, most of the information is present all over the internet.
Tiger king is a new Netflix 7-part documentary which revolves around the life of Joe Exotic – the owner of the G.W. Zoo. What feels like a straightforward story about an eccentric big cats lover soon takes a surprising turn towards a murder for hire plot. But wait, there’s more!
Tiger Kings is far from being a generic documentary. It’s crazier than what we’re led to believe in the first few episodes. The last time my mind was this boggled after watching a crime documentary was when I watch HBO’s “The Jinx: Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”. The best part is, the Tiger King’s life, without the “murder for Hire” allegation, was full of drama. He was a gay Zoo owner, who married 2 guys at the same time and ran for governor later on. His life was no less than a movie. He even had a villain, Carole Baskins – owner of the Big Cat Rescue, who was fighting against the private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers.
But the story gets crazier by the episode. Carole is not actually an angel sent from heaven to save these poor cats, also, she is not the only villain in Joe’s life and then suddenly, FBI comes into the picture!
You can easily realise that the whole rivalry between all these big cat eccentrics has been sensationalised. A type of mystery was created around there life to spice up the whole story. But in the end, it all feels justified as each character involved is so colourful that you cannot take your eyes off. If you were not aware of the whole thing like me, there is no chance you can predict what they did. It baffled me when I couldn’t decide who’s side am I on. I, as a viewer, was not able to trust the words on any of them. I was asking myself, do people like these really exist? The only ones who you’d feel sympathy towards were the animals because as one of the persons involved explained, “all these fights were for the cats, but none of it helped their situation. Not one of these fights benefitted the animals involved.”
There are hundreds of such sanctuaries in US alone where tigers and lions are living in the captivity of cages. They’re used for breeding to produce cute cubs with whom you can click pictures to post on social media and feel good about your lives. When they’re old, they become useless. The show successfully put this reality in front of us as well.
I would recommend this show as the best documentary there is to watch while you’re locked up at your homes. As compared to the uncertainty around the future of this Pandemic, Tiger King will definitely feel more unreal. After you’ve seen it, do let me know how do you find it. Also, do you think Carole really did it!
If you liked Tiger King and are looking for similar crime documentaries, you can go for HBO’s The Jinx that I mentioned before. It is about a big real estate personality, Robert Durst, who was a suspect of multiple murder charges. The ending is still one of the most surprising I’ve ever seen. Also, you can watch Making a Murderer by Netflix. It is about how Steven Avery, who was wrongfully accused of rape because of corruption in local law enforcement found himself being considered as a suspect in another heinous crime.