‘Tiger King’ is not worth all the hype

Bridget Janis, Features Editor

Netflix released a new documentary just in time for the nationwide stay-at-home order: “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

The show, which has seven episodes that are all about 45 minutes long, was a quick watch. I was able to binge-watch it all in one day — because what else was I going to do?

“Tiger King” follows the story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic. He is the owner of G.W. Zoo, a privately-owned zoo in Oklahoma with over 200 tigers and other big cats. 

Throughout the documentary, we learn about Exotic running his zoo, raising his tigers, and the woman who continuously tries to shut down his zoo, Carole Baskin.

Baskin is an animal rights activist and owns Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit animal sanctuary based near Tampa, Florida. Viewers of the show become very invested in her past marriage. It comes out in episode two that her late husband, Don Lewis, had gone missing in August 1997 and was pronounced dead in 2002.

Many people have suspicions that Baskin killed her husband and fed him to her tigers. This is something that Exotic, his employees and other big cat zoo owners say during the series. 

Before watching this series, Baskin’s name was all over my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Everyone was debating on social media about the theory that she killed her husband.

After watching the show, it was shocking that the conversation about Baskin’s late husband disappearing was a little less than an episode of the series. While, yes, I do follow all the theories of the murder because it is interesting, it doesn’t make sense why it is so hyped up if it was such a small portion of the show.

The reason this show did so well on Netflix is because people are sitting at home practicing social distancing. I don’t think people would have been as interested if this series came out a couple of months earlier.

It was an interesting documentary, but it does not deserve all the praise it is getting. 

The timing for the release was convenient. Closer to the end of the show, Exotic was accused of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, because she was always trying to shut down his zoo. He ends up in jail and the audience gets to see the whole process of how everything went down. 

All the facts that lead up to his arrest were crammed into about the last two episodes, so it becomes more fast-paced at the end. 

Netflix has released some great documentaries in the past with some interesting stories to tell. “Tiger King” was original, since Exotic did actually own over 200 big cats — the eye-catcher for the whole story.

The audience got to see all the tiger cubs and playful times along with Exotic’s crazy personal life with the rivalry and Baskin’s multiple husbands. But really, the tigers and Baskin’s husband’s disappearance were the only interesting parts.

While this documentary was unique, it definitely isn’t worth all the hype it got. There are better documentaries out there. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars