Tiger King: A Global Phenomenon
By Piper G
Most people recognize the name of the new Netflix documentary series Tiger King because since it’s release date on March 20, 2020, it has become a global phenomenon. The show, which was produced by Eric Goode, portrays a scandal involving a zookeeper going by the name Joe Exotic.
The success of the documentary is undoubtedly due to both the seamlessly integrated footage and interviews along with the absolutely crazy story. The documentary details Exotic’s life story from him acquiring tigers, his marriages to several men, and his political aspirations. However, the main focus of the series is on a feud between Exotic and a woman named Carole Baskins, who vehemently opposed Exotic’s treatment of the animals at his zoo.
There is not a dull moment to be found in the seven episodes of Tiger King. Every single person seemed to have an outrageous backstory. The documentary didn’t only focus on Exotic but also on other tiger fanatics. Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle was another man who owned tigers and also had quite a history, having started what most would describe as a cult.
Tiger King has captivated millions and inspired many internet memes. However, the documentary gives a fascinating insight into public opinion. The documentary ends with Exotic being served a 22-year sentence and being jailed for plotting to have Carole Baskins killed. This has inspired the “Free Joe Exotic” movement online. Carole Baskins has also become an internet celebrity, although she has not earned any of the praise Exotic has received.
In the documentary, it detailed Baskins first husband mysteriously disappearing and how some believed she was behind the death. The claim has never been proven as nobody knows what happened to her former husband. The docuseries sparked the attention of many and now has led to masses of people proclaiming that “Carole Baskins killed her husband”.
Overall, it seems like Exotic has been very well received by the public while Baskins has been vilified. The fact of the matter is that both made mistakes in the series (Joe himself abused animals, plotted to kill a woman, made violent threats, and dangerously handled firearms). The fact that he is seen as a hero by the public is questionable and offers an interesting insight into how people are often intrigued by the bizarre and will justify poor actions for some while criticizing others. Tiger King was a brilliant docuseries that is unparalleled. The amount of attention it received and conversation it started undoubtedly proves this.