Let’s Talk About “Tiger King” — REVIEW

Netflix’s latest release is a rollercoaster.



Doc Antle showcases one of his tigers for a crowd. Antle plays a large role in the series, as he runs a zoo in Myrtle Beach, S.C. At the beginning of the series, Antle and fellow zoo owner Joe Exotic have a friendly working relationship.

Hana Holtz and Camryn Church

“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” was released on Friday, March 20 on Netflix. Since it’s release, the seven-episode series has spent a lot of time on Netflix’s Top Ten list. Currently, it sits at number one.

The series follows Joe Exotic–a private zoo owner in Wynnewood, Okla. At the time of filming, Exotic had 227 tigers, as well as other animals like bears, leopards, and chimpanzees. Exotic is feuding with Carole Baskin–who owns and operates a big-cat sanctuary in Florida. The two have differing interests as Exotic breeds and sells tiger cubs, and Baskin rescues big cats. Both individuals keep the animals in captivity. 

Their feud starts as banter back and forth on the internet. However, the series follows the escalation of their hatred. Murder for hire, a lawsuit over a logo, and speculation that Baskin’s second husband was killed by her are all pit stops on the Exotic-Baskin rage train.

Whether it be the immense amount of tigers or profanity, “Tiger King” was interesting to watch, to say the least. You start out in the first episode, not really knowing what you’re about to get yourself into. When I first began watching, I had to decide who’s side to be on. At first, I chose Exotic’s, because I believe Baskin killed her husband, or at least had something to do with his disappearance. I mean, who would run away to Costa Rica with none of their money, as a millionaire? 

Back to what I was saying, I was on Exotic’s side for most of the series, up until about the last episode, when I realized that no one benefited from the lawsuit, murder-for-hire plot, or the constant expletive-filed banter. Like Kelci Saffery–who worked for Exotic–was talking about, no one really won in the end. Exotic was in prison, and millions of dollars were spent to go to court and to investigate him. That money would have done so much for the less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild. None of the cats benefited from the situation.

On a lighter note, my favorite part of the series was the scene in episode seven with James Garretson and the jet ski. Garretson was a business partner of Exotic’s and played a role in the murder-for-hire investigation. Garretson said to the cameraman, “I don’t think I’m finished in all of this” and the scene cuts to him on a jet ski with “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor blasting. Personally, I felt like this was a reward for getting through six episodes of crazy, back-stabbing betrayal. “Tiger King” is an interesting show, and I think the can’t-look-away factor helps it along.

Also, in episode four, Exotic drinks from an Iowa Hawkeyes mug. Not sure what his tie is to the University of Iowa, but I definitely did a double take at that one.

According to Jeff Lowe–the new owner of Exotic’s zoo and former business partner–Netflix will be releasing a new episode some time this week. Lowe said the crew had filmed at the zoo recently with the hopes of tacking on a new “Tiger King” installment.

If you’re looking for a binge-worthy show for self-quarantine, “Tiger King” is definitely it. There’s crime. There’s drama. There’s even a little bit of romance–actually a lot: Baskin runs Big Cat Rescue with her husband, Howard, Exotic had three husbands, and fellow big-cat enthusiast Doc Antle has three wives. 

Finally, there’s humor. A lot of the things said in the show have been made into memes. Baskin’s greeting of “Hey all you cool cats and kittens” and Exotic’s statement from his 2016 presidential campaign can be seen throughout social media.

“Tiger King” isn’t for the faint of heart, but I can guarantee the word-of-mouth reviews of just how crazy the show is will keep it in the news cycle for the upcoming weeks.