Tiger King: The Wild Series Everyone is Talking About.


An Illustration of Joe Exotic, from Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness on Netflix

With the spread of the coronavirus it seems, that’s the one thing on everyone’s mind, so sometimes the best thing to do is distract yourself! If you haven’t started watching Netflix’s new docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, you have definitely heard of it. The brand new limited series has taken over social media, nearly overnight.  Released on March 20, just a few days after shelter-in-place was put under order here in the Bay Area, it has risen to number one on Netflix and has remained there for the following week.  

This seven-episode series has viewers thrown into a world they wouldn’t have ever known existed in rural Oklahoma. A world with big cat conservationists and collectors. People, who like to keep wild cats as pets, and who own a zoo to keep all the other special animals they have bought and bred.

The first episode introduces a very unique character with a perfect name to match. Joe Exotic, the proud owner of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, owns a total of 221 tigers roaming inside his zoo. Right off the bat, Joe Exotic is clearly the star of this series. He is also known as, “the world’s only gay, gun-loving redneck” and just in the first episode, viewers can see and form opinions on what he is doing is right and what he is doing wrong, both for his animals and the workers of his zoo. 

The show, if you keep watching, does not only revolve around Exotic and his zoo, however. The story goes much deeper and follows up on various characters and their involvement with exotic animals. During episodes, you’ll hear people drop their tiger experiences so casually, they make it sound as if it’s just another class required to take in high school. 

This show expertly creates many different perspectives on cult-like communities believed to be creating the perfect tiger sanctuary for themselves and their love of cats. Each sanctuary is convinced that they are doing the best thing for their zoo and executes their involvement the best they can on camera. However, the real underlying story of the series is the rivalry Joe Exotic has with a fellow private zoo owner, Carole Baskin. This woman is obsessed with how she can take him down. While her zoo is just as successful, many of these sanctuaries have some low blow commentary on their competition making it sound like a conglomerate of immature high school rivalry.

This docuseries transitions the viewer into a captivating murder mystery, where Exotic has convinced himself that his old rival, Baskin, fed her missing husband to her rescued tigers, and he will do whatever it takes to bring her, and her zoo down. Exotic shares his hatred for Baskin in numerous explicit videos, and his take on how she murdered her husband. 

The series takes more wild turns when Joe Exotic’s ego gets the best of him; as years go by, he creates an obsession with becoming the biggest cultural icon in the world. He believes he could become the next president of the United States in 2016, and when that failed, he tried to run for Governor of Oklahoma, seemingly unsuccessful. 

With all the fame and attention he was getting with his zoo, his main purpose was only to be the best tiger zoo in the country, and to proclaim the title as Tiger King. Without giving away the end of the series, these crazy stories have captured the attention of millions spreading over social media. It’s captured attention from celebrities like Jared Leto, Dax Shepard, and Edward Norton, who are putting their names out to play Joe Exotic in a future movie. 

Don’t get distracted by the fascinating characters like Joe Exotic, and the band of others out there with caged animals, but see the importance of these animals involved. Only time will tell to see how this docuseries helps or harms the existence of this behavior.