Courtesy of Vanity Fair
By Franchetta Groves
It’s a story that you have to see to believe, one that when you’re told about, you just have to watch it for yourself to see if it’s true. This mentality has led the Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness to reach Netflix’s top ten most popular programs. It follows individuals who own big cats and specifically focuses on the eccentric tiger breeding gun enthusiast Joe Exotic.
The craziness starts when the viewer sees how many people own wild big cats, which is legal in the United States. Yet as the show continues, one begins to realize that this is simply the beginning. Organizations such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and animal rights activists argue that the keeping of wild animals as pets is unethical and immoral. Leading the fight against Joe Exotic’s practices is Carole Baskin, starting a feud which would lead to millions spent in legal fees and even imprisonment.
As the show unwinds, the viewer sees that not all is as it seems; Carole herself has a questionable past. One huge controversy surrounding her past is whether or not she had something to do with the disappearance of her second husband. Joe Exotic certainly believes so, as he has made inflammatory claims that she had fed him to her tigers or that his body was buried in the septic tank on the property of her Big Cat Rescue center. Yet the drama did not end there, and things escalated quickly as Joe Exotic began making death threats against Carole Baskin on his weekly podcast.
Joe Exotic’s zoo was also a breeding ground for trouble. Drug use, mismanagement, and lawsuits with Carole left Joe struggling for cash and making questionable decisions. One of Joe Exotic’s most questionable decisions? Running for president as an independent in 2016. Just when viewers think that the show couldn’t get any crazier, politics is added into the mix.
The perfect storm was created, and Joe Exotic was about to snap. Eventually the stress and struggles of his zoo led to a desire for revenge. Joe Exotic sought vengeance against the cause of his problems: Carole Baskin. For the price of three thousand dollars Joe Exotic hired a worker to drive from Oklahoma to Florida to kill Baskin. However his plan backfired when Joe’s hitman backed out, and the FBI was tipped off to Joe’s plans, leading to his arrest.
The show has been immensely successful, and it has skyrocketed to one of the most popular shows on Netflix.
“It’s a car crash; you just can’t look away” said freshman Sophia Cataldo. “Everyone’s stuck in quarantine so we’re all going stir crazy and it makes us all feel normal to see someone presented to be so crazy.”