Joe Exotic, 'Tiger King' Courtesy Photo

During our self-quarantine, my family and I were scrolling through Netflix for our nightly movie when we came across something that would change our night from boring to intriguing — the Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

“Tiger King” is about Joe Exotic, a zoo owner who privately owned about 90 big cats, and his feud with and murder plot against the owner of Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin. It also details the strange world of privately owned big cats and how dangerous and criminal it can be. 

The first few episodes are spent introducing Exotic and Baskin to the audience along with Exotic’s former employees, ex-husbands and other big cat owners such as Bhagavan "Doc" Antle. There’s an entire episode dedicated to Antle’s business and the questionable welfare of both his animals and employees.

The seven-episode documentary is a wild ride. We see Exotic commit countless, mindlessly aggressive acts, including shooting a gun at a Baskin look-alike doll and posting a video of him reading from Baskin’s diary, all the while constantly talking about how he wants her dead. 

There are regular surprises in each episode. One example occurs when the audience learns how one of Exotic’s husbands, Travis, accidentally killed himself in front of an employee. One episode follows Baskin’s first husband Don Lewis’ disappearance and the individuals from Lewis’ past who believe Baskin was responsible for his disappearance. They theorize that she did it in order to get his money to maintain the zoo before he divorced her.

Like all great documentaries, the series was sufficiently unbiased. Many people on both sides such as government officials and members of PETA were interviewed, making it seem like the audience is truly given all perspectives of the situation. 

What makes the documentary so compelling is the regularly strange behavior of big cat owners, as some situations seem to be straight out of fiction. The documentary covers animal, mental and physical abuse, arson, murder, scamming, drug dealing and politics. There are only so many scandalous subjects one documentary can handle, and “Tiger King” is a jack of all trades. 

“Tiger King” is a must-watch for anyone looking to distract themselves from everything going on. Its flamboyant drama will keep anyone on their toes. Those interested in this documentary might want to keep up in the news since the show’s subjects have been making headlines since its premiere.

culture@dailynebraskan.com