Movie Review: Tiger King

Netflix’s powerful answer to boredom during the global pandemic


Fourth Estate/Billy Ferguson

Netflix, one of the few things keeping us sane during the pandemic, released the documentary series “Tiger King” on March 20. In a strange way, the timing of this release was very fortunate, as the world seemingly shut down due to the impact of COVID-19. This seven episode series has captivated the world during the global pandemic and has more than a few students switching back and forth from online lectures to this series.

As we know, the best way to flatten the curve is to stay at home and avoid contact with others and there is nothing Netflix does better than keeping people glued to the TV screen.

A quick look at the preview for “Tiger King” would make you think that it’s going to be about a crazy dude who does even crazier things with his tigers. While that’s true, it starts to unfold into something even more insane.

You couldn’t find someone who characterized southern folk more than Joe Exotic, one of the people the show focuses on, from the way he talks to how he dresses, and his love for guns, explosives and just about anything dangerous. Anytime you see him, he’s either carrying a tiger cub or shooting something while yelling about Carole Baskin, his self-declared nemesis and one of the other characters in the series.

Baskin is the antithesis of Exotic: a calm and peaceful animal rights activist. Her sanctuary in Florida, Big Cat Rescue, is set on rescuing tigers from being used at zoos, especially Exotic’s zoo. She has devoted herself to passing laws to put Exotic and people like him out of business. 

The show has been very successful in spawning an abundance of memes, which isn’t too surprising. All someone would have to do is pick a random episode, go to a random time and there’s most likely something that will crack them up. 

On numerous occasions, Exotic calls Baskin a slew of expletives, and his outrageous campaign video in his attempt to run for president have provided much material for jokes. People have not been holding back when making memes about the possibility of Baskin feeding her husband to tigers.

At first, it feels like director Eric Goode wanted to portray the war between those who believe you should be able to own tigers and those who are trying to outlaw it. But as the show progresses, it devolves into a crazy feud between Exotic and Baskin.Whether it’s Baskin being accused of murdering her husband or Exotic going on the lam after someone spilled the beans that he might have paid someone to kill Baskin, each episode has something different to keep you hooked. 

While there is still so much time left to stay inside, why not spend it watching people who make you feel better about yourself by comparison?