As soon as Tiger King hit Netflix it took the world by storm, taking over social media thanks to the unrivalled absurdity of its story that needs to be seen to be believed. What begins as a look into the world of big cat breeding is propelled into a world of crime and corruption by the seemingly endless cast of unique personalities.
As the story of Tiger King unravels and you delve deeper and deeper into the life of Joe Exotic and those who surround him, it goes to a number of places you can’t predict. The absurdity of almost every key event provides an endless run of entertainment through the entire series to where, by the end of each episode, there’s a whole new story arc to sink your teeth into. The way the story flows and builds with each passing episode is great. It’s told in a largely chronological order, which helps in being able to follow the crazy events since there is a growing number of characters jumping in and out of the story. This entire series could have fallen apart by the end of the first episode, but the framework for what is to come in the rest of the season is set up incredibly well and the intrigue is there from the get-go.
Each episode attempts to bring along its own core focus and thrust the story in some unique and unpredictable direction. It’s immensely fast paced and before you know it, you’ve smashed through the first five episodes. The last two episodes do bring a couple of new angles to the story and close out the story this season is telling, but they run at a noticeably slower pace than the rest of the season. The information in these last two episodes seemed to get a little repetitive and I feel like the series would have benefited from having these last two episodes combined into one. Thankfully it did end on a satisfying note, coming to some sort of conclusion (for now) that other true crime documentaries sometimes fail to deliver on. The final moments also give us a truly phenomenal “Eye of the Tiger” jet-ski scene that is not to be missed.
There are areas of the story I’d have liked to see be explored further, such as the drama surrounding Carole Baskin and her history with big cats and husbands, but this is predominantly Joe Exotic’s story so I’m sure her history will be explored soon enough.
The truly insane story is one thing, but it’s the bizarre cast of characters that make this series so enjoyable… you just can’t make this stuff up. The personalities that show up are all very unique and each one of them brings their own touch of craziness and sanity. Joe Exotic is at the centre of it all, he’s the most eccentric personality by a mile and every main and side narrative flows through him and his zoo. It’s his eccentricity and passion (if you can call it that) which draws all attention to him and in some ways gets you on his side. His feud with Carole Baskin is the foundation for almost everything that happens in this series, and despite the two of them never actually sharing a scene together (in person), the editors have done an incredible job to make it feel like we watched seven episodes of the two of them conversing.
In the end, Tiger King is nothing short of outrageous, insane and uniquely captivating. As you go deeper into the life of Joe Exotic, his feud with Carole Baskin and his efforts to keep his zoo alive, the more enthralled you get in everything going on. The various personalities are engaging, the editing is great and the left turns taken in the various narratives you can’t predict, making for a gloriously unique experience. My main gripe is that the last two episodes could have been condensed into one, in order to better match with the rest of the season, but as a whole I highly recommend subjecting yourself to the insanity surrounding the world of big cat breeding.