Tiger King: Worth the Watch?

Does popular opinion always know best?


Harper Sensiba

the featured image Netflix chose for the show.

Harper Sensiba
This image shows how many wild animal owners use the animals as toys.

Netflix recently dropped a bomb on its subscriber’s and it’s called Tiger King. A redneck explosion of drugs, revenge, and scandal. Watching a total of seven 45-minute episodes has left me along with millions of other left questioning the very society we live in. Are we really so sheltered that this documentary has shocked us to our core with disbelief?

If you’re like me (or 34 million others), Tiger King has been sending your brain into every which way spiral.

Harper Sensiba
An image of all the characters featured in the after show interviews.

Let this be a warning: major spoilers are ahead.

Every event that took place and every character in the Tiger King Documentary has a shadow of irony hanging over it. Joseph Allen Maldonado Passage, better known as main character Joe Exotic, had once made a career for himself owning an exotic animals zoo, known specially for its big cats.

Once upon a time he had a successful zoo, married to two lovely men, and had prospects of a reality TV show coming his way. Right now, Joe Exotic is sitting in federal prison with a 22-year sentence due to murder for hire and violations of Lacey act and Endangered Species Act.

Uh oh, looks like Carol Baskin won.

Harper Grace Sensiba
Joel McHale hosted an after show episode interviewing key characters.

Rumored murder of ex-husband Don Lewis, Carol Baskin runs a rescue animal sanctuary. The two had been fighting a back and forth viscous battle for years, and happens to be one of the main points the documentary is centered around. Carol and Joe seemed to cross every single line if it meant they could get a jab at the other. From lawsuits to online threats, and then… to murder for hire. The dynamic of Joe’s zoo and life were twisted too, part of a polyamorous marriage with two straight men, one of which in a tragic incident shot himself in the head, the other leaving Joe after he impregnated a staff member of the zoo.

Reality TV producer that tried to turn Joe life into a reality TV show.

These are just a small look into the documentary. Many more characters, relationships, and criminal activity took place, too much to even begin to know where to start when explain. The irony of the show is that at first glance the show is about the big cats at the zoo or rescue center, but once you go deeper and begin to watch and follow the story, the animal’s importance stars too diminish. You see the drama and egos are more important to the characters than the cats are, you see the quality of care for the cats starts to go downhill as the caretakers get caught u in their own affairs, you see neglect. The cats, for every character in the show, were just accessories, props used to gain fame or money. Used for the power to draw people in and keep them. These accessories were just there to make the humans feel better about themselves. The cats suffered so the humans could thrive, but only for a short amount of time. Joe exotic once owned 200 big cats, that over 100 more than the amount of Amur leopards there are left in the wild. Every person in this film had a part to play, whether it was a hit man, a breeder, a film maker, a husband, very few actually cared about the animals. When asked what shocked her the most about the series, Felicia Sensiba said, “The most shocking part of the Tiger King series was that I actually found myself interested and continued to watch it. that is so shocking to me because it was so abhorrent that I couldn’t believe i wanted to keep watching.” Gracie Gallagher mentions how “Tiger King was almost educational” because it opened up her eyes to how crazy peoples lives can really get.

Tiger King had 34 million viewers in just the first 10 days of being on Netflix. Viewing numbers this high are far beyond anything Joe had ever dreamed of.

Tiger King is now streaming on Netflix.