The Rewind

You Need to Watch 'Tiger King', Netflix's Craziest Ever Documentary Series

You Need to Watch 'Tiger King', Netflix's Craziest Ever Documentary Series

Every so often, Netflix releases a documentary series that seems to grip the whole country. The like of Making a Murderer, The Confession Tapes, and Our Planet were hugely popular, and there was a time when it was difficult to have a conversation where there wasn't a mention of the latest release.

While all of those were brilliant and enthralling in their own way, none of them can hold a candle to the sheer lunacy of the streaming giant's latest release.

It is difficult to define exactly what type of documentary Tiger King is. It's not a nature programme, not quite a true crime or murder mystery documentary, nor is it a reality show. However, it has elements of all of those things.

It tells the story of 'Joe Exotic', the owner of a tiger zoo in Oklahoma State. Putting it lightly, he is a bit of a character.

The series starts out by looking at the phenomena of keeping big cats in the United States, where it is believed there are between 5,000-10,000 privately owned tigers in the country. That's more than the 4,000 that currently remain in the wild worldwide.


Many of these animals are kept in privately operated 'zoos', which have long been criticised by animal rights activists. Joe Exotic owns one of the largest and most well-known big cat zoos in the country.

The documentary was being filmed regardless, but after production had begun, the whole thing started to spiral in a barely believable story of polygamy, political campaigns, murder and assassins.

This was given away in the trailer, so it's not exactly a spoiler, but Joe Exotic would eventually be sent to prison for attempting to hire a hitman to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin. Was he the architect of the plot, or was he set up by someone who wanted to rob him of his vast array of exotic wildlife?

However, there is a long road that brings us to that point in the story. That includes delving into the background of Baskin herself, who may not possess the squeaky clean image many animal lovers believed her to have. There is the mysterious disappearance of her wealthy older first husband, as well as questions behind the motives of her own big cat 'sanctuary'.

Couple all this with Joe Exotic, one of the most bizarre characters we have ever witnessed on the small screen. If he was a fictional character, you'd scoff at how unrealistic he was.

Real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, he is a polygamous, gun-loving, mullet-sporting, tiger-owning, red neck from Kansas. He has two much younger husbands, both of whom he met when they came to his zoo.


He is someone who craved the limelight, so much so that he started his own online series. Much of that was spent threatening Baskin, the woman who he would eventually be accused of trying to have killed.

It's also worth mentioning that he released a number of bizarre country music songs about, you guessed it, tigers:

We haven't covered even a quarter of what you will see in the seven-part series. Believe us when we say that every time you think you're getting a grip at what's going on, they will throw you a ridiculous curveball.

Untangling a bizarre story of murder, lies, and deceit, all while looking at the overarching questions of the ethics of keeping those magnificent animals captive in such a manner, Tiger King is the must watch show of 2020 so far.

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Gary Connaughton

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