Image via IMDb

‘Tiger King’ Was One Hell Of A Wild Ride

In a bid to keep up with conversations and relate to the hoards of memes amid the coronavirus pandemic, I reluctantly watched Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.

And it was one hell of a wild ride, to say the least.

When the poster first appeared on Netflix, I assumed that it would be a documentary on an eccentric white man and his obsession with big cats. I was not wrong, but I wasn’t strapped in for the bumpy road ahead. The Netflix docu-series had everything as fodder for Twitter users to go nuts about.

It is an unnerving tale surrounding an outrageously dressed man with a fondness for theatricals. And it includes cats. Big ones! It also ties in a murder conspiracy, as well as a controversial three-way relationship. It is genuinely peppered with the most chaotic elements, and it only gets worst as you watch on.

Masked as a documentary, the whole series was more like a reality show no one signed up for. It revolves around the lives of big cat owners, and as the name of the show suggests… the ‘Tiger King’ himself, known as Joe Exotic.

You can’t help but marvel at Exotic, who managed a zoo, released country bangers (with music videos), dabbled as a magician, ran for governor of Oklahoma, and rolled his dices at being the president of the United States.

With all of that under his belt, he still managed to find himself in the center of a murder-for-hire plot, which ultimately led to his incarceration.

I’m not going into too much detail about the rest of the colorful characters in the series because it will be too overwhelming. But as an example, one of the workers in the zoo, called Saff, lost one of his arms to a tiger and went back to work a week after the incident. And guess what…even during the turmoil of having one of his employees’ getting an arm ripped off by his tiger, Exotic took the liberty of time to put on his paramedic jacket.

This is the type of show which you really have to see it to believe it.

By mid-series, you’ll find yourself saying, “Of course,” when something absurd happens because it normalizes the bizarre with everything that has happened so far. Oh, and I haven’t even touched on Carole Baskin. (Cue Exotic’s iconic phrase: “That Bitch Carole Baskin!”)

Carole Baskin is another big cat lover who dons floral headbands and tiger-printed clothing — which, by the way, should be obvious red flags. Like every superhero storyline, Baskin is the longstanding arch-nemesis of Exotic, but the difference is that they are both villains to the animals they claim to cherish here.

Baskin and the ‘Tiger King’ go head-to-head for years and their enmity soon turns from comedic gold to troubling unease. At one point, Exotic declares that the lady who greets her fans as “Hey, all you cool cats and kittens” is a heinous killer, who fed her missing ex-husband to her large felines. Take a breath. That disturbing accusation can be unsettling to most but what’s even more daunting is the notion that you might find yourself on Exotic’s side with the allegation.

Also, Exotic was in a polygamous relationship with John and Travis — both straight men. Here’s a trigger warning before I reveal that Travis shot himself by accident in the zoo, which is by far one of the most tragic incidents in the whole series.

I was speechless, and I didn’t know if I could carry on watching the show, but I had to complete it. The series was almost like a car crash — you know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t turn away.

With the spiraling lunacy at the forefront of the show, the unsung heroes were the zookeepers who appeared to be the beacon of hope to these big cats. However, these caregivers had to walk away from their beloved animals due to Satan in the form of Jeff Lowe, who eventually takes over the zoo from Exotic.

Now, do me a favor and watch Tiger King if you haven’t already done so. If you did, let’s belt out the earworm that is “I Saw A Tiger” together.

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Thanussha Priyah

Thanussha Priyah

I often turn to writing to reposition my wavering mind.