Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness became a worldwide phenomenon when it hit Netflix in 2020 during the pandemic. People were intrigued by the chaotic premise that focused on the surreptitious world of breeding big cats and the secrets harboured by the community. With the show gaining superstardom, the central figure Joe Exotic became somewhat of a pop-culture phenomenon and gained the centre stage.
Directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, the docu-series focused on Joe Exotic, the self-proclaimed Tiger King, who had an obsession with wild cats that he kept at his Wynnewood zoo, named G.W. Exotic Animal Zoo. It was also a tourist attraction besides being a big cat shelter.
He became such an iconic figure after the release of the series that he triggered the comeback of blonde mullets and horseshoe moustaches. Joe Exotic was also one of the most popular Halloween costumes, besides being the face of innumerable memes and videos.
Exotic was charged with the murder-for-hire plot against his arch-nemesis Carole Baskin as well as for his unprecedented crimes against animals. He had allegedly hired two men – one of them being an FBI undercover agent – to help him carry out his vicious plot of murdering Baskin.
The outlandish and garish premise of the series was supposed to focus on the exploitation and abuse of big cats that were being carried out. However, people soon lost focus and concentrated on the murder plot and began a public outrage against Carole Baskin without trying to take a look into the greater picture.
While the viewers went on a brutal binge and got sucked into the attractive flamboyance of Exotic and Baskin’s revulsive personalities and long-standing rivalry, the abuse took place at the cost of humans and animals. While Exotic served as a good Halloween look with his sequins and zany persona, a second season is not something we really needed.
The second season will most likely focus on the mysterious disappearance of Carole Baskin’s first husband and the subsequent suspects and investigation. Baskin has reportedly sued the show for violating her consent and incorporating details that were promised to be omitted. Although this season will perhaps spark the Carole-Baskin-hatred even more, it is essential to realise that neither of the show’s subjects are particularly good people with good intentions regarding conservatism.
The false sense of awareness that the docuseries tries to bring becomes a moral and ethical failure as it does not accomplish its end goal. People care more about the juicy details of the rivalry while their illegal and pathetic romp with the lives of the big cats become a back burner.
The second season of the show was released on Netflix today. While fans of the show have been waiting in eager anticipation to dig deeper into the controversy, I cannot share the sentiment. The show, to me, is a ridiculous watch that capitalises on the plight of big cats to present a sensational murder mystery with risque, eccentric characters that reach the pinnacle of commercial pleasure and absolute ignorance.
Tiger King 2? Not my cup of tea!ca