Netflix’s “Tiger King” features explosions, music videos, murder, polygamy, lots and lots of lions and tigers, and even a love story.
AND IT’S TRUE!
Who needs a fictional drama when you have a real life documentary about the bigger than life personalities behind exotic zoos in America. More compelling than a trainwreck is the sorry lives of people who purposely and maybe not purposely leverage their relationships with lions and tigers to get money, drugs, sex, and most importantly, the adulation of the masses to stroke their massive and often misguided egos.
Disclaimer; This article comments solely on the show for entertainment purposes, and is in no way making a judgement on the moral rights of the animals the show features.
<Juicy spoiler free – that means none of the super crazy stuff is given away below>
You could not dream up a more varied and cult-like list of characters than what Netflix’s latest documentary, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” features.
A charismatic man, Joe Exotic, who is a tattoo-ed, mulleted, sometime polygamist, politician, President and Governor wannabee, western singing and owner/operator of an exotic cat theme park in Oklahoma runs up against an animal rights activist, Carole Baskin, all hell <and beyond> breaks lose.
That’s the short version of this seven episode documentary now playing on Netflix.
Joe Exotic, who with no doubt loves lions and tigers only second to how much he loves himself owns and operates an up close and exotic animals theme park. Billed as a place where you can pet and play with baby big cats he turns a pretty good buck initially despite the massive over-head a place like this would require in upkeep.
With close to 300 big cats at its largest, Joe figures out interesting ways to fund the zoo including selling sexy men’s briefs and barbeque sauce in the gift shop, and promoting and profiting from the controversial activity of playing with tiger and lion kittens onsite.
Also, a sometimes mentor to Joe Exotic is Bhagavan Doc Antle (Bhagavan means “Lord” or “God”), who owns a similar theme park in North Carolina. Though it seems more professionally operated on the surface than Joe’s park, he has his own host of wild goings-on that are mostly hinted at on the series.
Antle is smart enough to only give up some tidbits and is more than aware of potential lawsuits that could come his way. One former employee, recounts how she was basically forced to get breast implants as a member of the “family” of workers at the North Carolina park.
Honestly, Doc Antle seems the most sane of them all.
Proclaimed animal activist, Carole Baskin, who is determined to shut down all exotic theme parks and yet owns one herself under the guise of it being a rescue, points her finger at her potential competition by stressing that she doesn’t breed her animals to turn a profit and then ends up rescuing the animals Joe and others sell to the public.
Is it a case of eliminating the competition, literally?
As compelling, flamboyant, and bombastic as these people’s lives are and the inevitable tragedy that surrounds them, there is a place the viewer needs to go in order to enjoy this as entertainment. To accept it as anything else will break your heart for the people and the animals.
Feel compelled to share your own thoughts on this issue of owning exotics and profiting from letting people play with them when they are babies? Or using them as a way to entice people for sex? Please “Like” and comment on the Bounding Into Comics Facebook Page or and follow/comment on Twitter.