Tiger King Doesn’t Have the Bite I Thought It Would

by Maddy O’Connell

The name Carole Baskin has been flooding social media for the past few weeks. I had no idea who she was, nor did I really care. But the more I heard people talking about a show on Netflix called Tiger King, the more pressure I felt to watch it. I guess if that many people are referencing it on social media and in person, then I have to watch it to see what all the fuss is about. If you need more incentive to watch, the show is currently trending at #1 in the U.S., so you might as well jump on the bandwagon too.

Since COVID-19 is keeping us all at home right now, I had the time to start the show…and finish it in the same day. The title and the brief clips of Tiger King that I saw online made me think it was just about some guy who was some sort of tiger whisperer. I had no idea how some lady that may or may not have killed her husband played into that plot. I usually don’t watch a show that only has one season because I don’t want to get super invested in it and then be left on a cliff hanger until the next season is out. This was an exception, though.

The season only has seven episodes, but they’re each about 45 minutes long and there are rumors that one more episode might be released. It started off by talking about “crazy animal people,” more specifically, “the big cat people.” At this point, I assumed my suspicions about the show being about a zookeeper who’s obsessed with big cats were correct. Then I hear a voice say, “It’s not every day that a zookeeper went to prison for murder to hire.” At this point, I’m very confused about this story. The Tiger King, Joe Exotic, is a weird man, which is pretty clear from the start. In each episode, you learn something that truly explains why he is called Joe Exotic.

At first, I didn’t think he’s someone capable of murder. He just seems like a super weird guy who really loves lions and tigers and turned his love into a job. Slowly, I learned that there’s a lot more to him. Several other zookeepers and businessmen share their opinions on Joe and his big cats, but the one who has the most to say is Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue. To me, it did not seem like her animals were getting taken care of any better than at Joe Exotic’s.

As I continued watching, I started to get confused as to what the point was of some of the stories they told. I won’t share them because I don’t want to reveal any, but you’ll probably have similar questions. It also got a bit difficult to keep track of all the different people that came and went from the show. Some people would be talking to the camera at times, and I wouldn’t know what their role or relationship to Joe was.

By the end of the show, I wasn’t dying to find out what happened next or searching the internet frantically trying to find out spoilers. I actually fell asleep several times throughout the season! Nothing was really solved by the end; there was only a small portion of the show that was focused on the fact that this woman may have killed her husband by feeding him to her lions. Joe Exotic was the main topic of concern for saying he wanted to kill her, but she wasn’t killed, and her husband was. Obviously, it’s horrible to go to some of the lengths that Joe did to try and get rid of Carole, but he never made it happen.

Would I recommend this show to someone to watch? I guess if you’re stuck in quarantine and in need of something to watch for a few hours or days, then Tiger King might not be the worst option. At least if you watch it, you’ll know what everyone is talking about, and you’ll get to see some pretty adorable baby tigers. But I thought it was boring and it’s not something I’ll ever watch again. If another episode does come out, I‘ll probably watch it, but I’m not counting on it to be very good. All I can say is that I had no idea there was so much drama with these people who own wild animals.