You can’t help getting caught up in ‘Tiger King’


Netflix’s “Tiger King” debuted on March 20 and has become an American obsession.

Story by Lailah Bobo, Reporter

For weeks on Netflix, I scrolled past the “Tiger King,” mistaking the docuseries to be about one of the kings of the jungle. But what made me start binging the show was the fact that not one tiger was the topic of discussion in a series called “The Tiger King”. When I read the title of the series, I completely read over the part about “Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” and I didn’t watch the trailer, which would have made me aware of what I was watching. I started the “Tiger King” assuming the worst-case scenario of the series would be tigers used as weapons. But I’m glad that I missed the precautions because if I did watch the trailer and completely read the title, I wouldn’t have watched it. 

The reason I continued after its first two episodes was because of the actual “Tiger King” Joe Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, who is a tiger-loving, homosexual, polygamous seeking, murderous zookeeper that I can’t help but find amusing. I especially couldn’t stop watching after viewing Joe’s rivalry with fellow zookeeper, Carole Baskin. Carole Baskin is a tiger loving, hypocritical, accused murderer. But by the end of the series, you either pick the side of Joe Exotic, who has strikes against him like his hysteria for killing Carole Baskin, or Carole who most likely murdered her husband and will clearly do anything for money. This seems like an easy choice, but trust that as you watch the series the choice becomes unclear on who you will side with.

Even though I believe that Joe Exotic is literally crazy, I choose his side because he is real. He is upfront with everything on and off camera. He didn’t hide that his zoo is basically a cult, he admitted that his ex-husbands were young when he developed his interests in them. Joe was honest even with his personal life, and even behind closed doors and he wasn’t afraid to be truthful. I also believe that Exotic’s desire to have Carole dead didn’t occur until she decided to legally yet unfairly take basically everything he owned, even what his mother owned. I don’t side with Baskin because she was claiming that Joe’s zoo was mistreating the animals and keeping them in cages was wrong, yet Carole was doing the exact same thing. I also don’t feel right rooting for the zookeeper who undoubtedly killed her husband because she wanted his riches. 

I think the purpose of the docuseries wasn’t to highlight the actual tigers in the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. I think the purpose of the show was to display a theme of Joe Exotic against the world. Joe, who is also incarcerated for the attempted murder of Carole Baskin, was psychotic. But like I said he was real and even though he enjoyed the attention, the attention that he started lacking didn’t prevent him from being himself.