Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness: Full Season
March 23, 2020 9:38 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Netflix's latest true crime docuseries dives into the wild world of big cat owners and enthusiasts in an exploration of one man's path from attention-seeking zoo owner to convicted criminal.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, AKA "Joe Exotic" (previously on metafilter), is not the sole focus of this docuseries. It also examines the life of his "nemesis" Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue.
posted by miss-lapin (66 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've listened to podcasts about him and that man is a complicated idiot. But still can't wait to watch this.
posted by kanata at 10:09 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


I never heard of him before, but he's fascinating (and terrifying). Carole is also pretty interesting.

One thing that annoys me is that they try and present Carole and Joe as essentially the same-one way they do that is by presenting how little employees make at the "private zoos" and that Carole uses volunteers. The director seems to be suggesting that both volunteers and employees have fallen for the "cult of personality" of their respective leaders and are being exploited. Like I get they are trying to show both sides of the story, but trying to make those two situations equal felt very wrong.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:25 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]


Been waiting for someone to post this. I told someone last night there aren't very many sympathetic characters in that story. Being from Oklahoma I have heard most of the big events, but not lots of the finer details.

I found Carole as unlikeable as any of the other big cat guys. She's just better packaged than Joe - just as manipulative and attention seeking in her own way. Don't get me started on Doc Antle and the dude with the Lord Farquaad hair cut. Repulsive humans.

I was sad for the keeper, Eric, in particular. He seemed to be having a hard time with what happened with the animals. What a f**ed up thing to be a part of, both the euthanasia and the dysfunctional events surrounding Joe.

This was pretty funny though - Seth Wadley Ford is the dealership on the hat Joe wears the whole series.
posted by domino at 11:13 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


Yeah I don't think Carole is sympathetic and her personality is clearly very similar to that of the big cat guys. But at least she isn't "marrying" her volunteers like "Doc" Antle does with his interns. That seemed like a forced equivocation to me. (I'd honestly be curious to hear your rants because I'm not as familiar with these people.)

But everything else, yeah...not sympathetic to her.

In terms of sympathetic characters, I do find the campaign manager and, of course, Travis's mother, sympathetic.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:04 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


Yeah, only the campaign manager & Travis' mom come across as actual kind-hearted people.

Everyone else is ... a lot. This just kept going and going and no one is likable.

I do appreciate that this doesn't come across like "look at these freaks." This series feels like it tries hard to present these people how they actually are, and leaves the audience to judge them.

This was a pretty uncomfortable watch and kind of all over the place, but I didn't mind that the narrative wasn't strong. This wasn't one story so much as it was a character profile that incorporated a lot of other characters.

I'm not sure what my opinion of these people are. I'm not sure if my life is improved for having gotten to know them. But it was an interesting time getting to know them.
posted by darksong at 3:36 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


People that keep wild animals as pets absolutely infuriate me, and it seems like it's a big subculture in the US?

Obviously, this group was even more infuriating than typical.
posted by smoke at 7:29 PM on March 24 [7 favorites]


This was absolutely buck wild, and although I am glad I watched it, I did not sign up to see someone’s face slowly register that he has watched a man die. I hope I never see that again.

Big cat keeping seems to attract people who have no other place to go in their lives, either literally, emotionally, or both.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:55 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


I am actually pretty kindly disposed towards Carole. I don't see any issues with the way she uses volunteers--that's honestly not abnormal for wildlife sanctuaries, including places like Best Friends which are generally considered gold-standard, and the bulk of them seem to be much more casual than the super-invested ones. Which is also normal--that's how you manage volunteer work on that level.

And while there seems to be fuckery going on with her ex-husband, I'm not convinced that she actually had anything to do with his disappearance. YMMV, but Carole's responses seem well within the realm of "highly traumatized person in another abusive relationship with a highly controlling guy who was planning SOMETHING super shady involving getting out of dodge" to me. I totally buy that Lewis had convinced himself she was a gold-digger, but at the same time, she was in his life for four years before she left her previous husband. As for her making him abandon his wife and kids, he had a long and well-documented history of being a piece of shit who cheated constantly and was absolutely vicious about both sharing his wealth and letting anyone know how much he had. Nasty piece of work.

On the other hand, that "Bhagavan" fucker is clearly leading some kind of intensely fucked-up cult and I hope he dies in a fire yesterday because UGH. God.
posted by sciatrix at 8:55 AM on March 26 [18 favorites]


I'd read about Joe Exotic before, but I didn't know about the one employee losing her arm. If anyone remembers the 80s remake of Cat People, there's an extraordinarily unpleasant scene that's paralleled here.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:04 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Via Twitter's Robert Moore:
To anyone currently bingeing #tigerking on Netflix:

I spent four years working on a podcast and a long magazine story about Joe and Carole. I spent a week living at the zoo. I’ve spoken with almost everyone you’re seeing in the doc, and I attended the trial. Ask me anything!
posted by sciatrix at 12:02 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


One thing that annoys me is that they try and present Carole and Joe as essentially the same-one way they do that is by presenting how little employees make at the "private zoos" and that Carole uses volunteers. The director seems to be suggesting that both volunteers and employees have fallen for the "cult of personality" of their respective leaders and are being exploited. Like I get they are trying to show both sides of the story, but trying to make those two situations equal felt very wrong.

Yeah, they are definitely both cults of personality but Carol and Howard are running a much more legit operation. Having said that I think 99% of the professionalism and transparency comes from Howard who seems like a straight arrow who really wants to do right by the cats. Their volunteers were serious minded people too. Carol herself is a former exotics dealer turned hoarder and she lied so easily and fluently about meeting Don that I don't think you can take much of what she says at face value. I doubt she killed Don though: I believe she was the brains behind their real estate business so there was no need to kill him for starters and he seemed like the kind of idiot to get killed by one of his shady "friends". His first wife was also quite something, their poor kids.

I felt so bad for Eric, Saff and Reinke. There are a lot of Eric and Saff's out there being taken advantage of by crazy animal people. I hope they come out of this OK.
posted by fshgrl at 3:05 PM on March 29 [5 favorites]


One thing to note from the twitter thread that sciatrix links: Saff, the person whose arm gets amputated, is trans, wants to be called Saff, and uses he/him pronouns. Which leaves me with a pretty bad taste in my mouth about how the documentary producers/directors handle his name.
posted by lunasol at 3:20 PM on March 29 [17 favorites]


Still working my way through the series, but one thing I'll say now is that I don't really suspect Carole of anything shady. The documentary makers, while mostly satisfied with simply putting the cameras on the subjects and giving them enough rope, do something with the Carole segments--showing her in close-up and slowing down the film, so that her expressions seem somehow more sly and secretive--that I've seen in other reality TV and documentaries, and it's a cheap move. Really, I agree with sciatrix above: her ex seems pretty sleazy--there's a brief but telling bit from his handyman about how he liked to stash money and gold hither and yon, and his estimate of the guy's wealth seems to be much higher than that of some of the other people in his life, which makes me suspect that his supposed paranoia before he disappears was really a cover for his skipping out--and the real creep of the show is "Doc", with his shallow cultural appropriation and his "wives" with the names he picked for them and their weird catgirl/stripper costumes and everything. When one of the documentarians tries to bring up the weird cult shit, he pre-empts the question, as if the fact that it's been brought up before somehow neutralizes the truth of it. It totally doesn't.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:32 PM on March 29 [14 favorites]


I don't see Carole feeding her husband to the tigers. They aren't garbage disposals. Maybe they would chew on some bones, play with the head, but they wouldn't just put him away. Now if she kept pigs--but she doesn't.

Unless she does, and they just weren't in the show. It seems as if these folks all had ordinary domestic animals wandering around too, and I worried for them, especially the dachshunds. (Please do not tell me that something bad happened to the dachshunds. I do not have emotional room for that right now.)

Anyway, Carole says somewhere (I can't find where now) that Don was showing early signs of dementia, which would make it more plausible that he was dealing recklessly with rough people and making strange decisions. And small planes disappear easily at the best of times.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:28 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


and the real creep of the show is "Doc", with his shallow cultural appropriation and his "wives" with the names he picked for them and their weird catgirl/stripper costumes and everything.

I'm only two episodes in, but Doc is a horror show. He's like the nightmare version of cosplay gone terribly wrong.
posted by gladly at 7:31 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]


Oh here it is
posted by Countess Elena at 7:31 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Joe/the show tried to intimate that they tried to put him through a meat grinder and showed us the one Carole keeps on site for the cats. My partner used to work at a boutique butcher and had apparently worked with the same meat grinder, and burst out laughing at the notion that you could get that meat grinder to take human femurs with no trace--because T had previously tried to feed (smaller, animal) bones through theirs for raw pet food and broken the damn thing. That grinder could not handle large human bones or a human skull. Period. And of course the cats wouldn't eat the bones, either--cats don't have the jaw strength to really break and consume large bones, and they're not noted for chewing recreationally either. They aren't hyenas.

Doc is going to get even worse as you keep watching. For my money he's one of the nastiest pieces of work on the entire thing.
posted by sciatrix at 7:40 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


Carole is a really familiar type to me, having worked in a conservation-adjacent field for many years, and having spent most of my career in the non-profit sector. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this type vis a vis both conservation and the non-profit sector as a whole, but the thing that struck me about the editing choices of this documentary is how easy it is to take a wild-eyed idealist and single-minded founder of a non-profit and make it seem like she is crazy enough to have killed her ex and literally fed him to the lions.

The documentary makers, while mostly satisfied with simply putting the cameras on the subjects and giving them enough rope, do something with the Carole segments--showing her in close-up and slowing down the film, so that her expressions seem somehow more sly and secretive--that I've seen in other reality TV and documentaries, and it's a cheap move.

This was really obvious to me in the court episode, when they showed her applying lipstick. It was a completely innocuous act that they made seem pretty sinister through camera angles and slow-motion, and I couldn't help but find that pretty sexist.

It's interesting to me that Joe seems to be loved on social media, when it's clear he destroyed many lives. Yes, he's a bit of a tragic figure, but he hurt so many people. However, the person I really want to see get what's coming to him is Jeff. That man seems to be a complete sociopath, and I hope his wife is ok.
posted by lunasol at 9:24 AM on March 30 [13 favorites]


However, the person I really want to see get what's coming to him is Jeff. That man seems to be a complete sociopath, and I hope his wife is ok.

And their kid, and the nanny. I hated that scene.
posted by witchen at 11:40 AM on March 30 [8 favorites]


I'm at the end of episode 2, don't really like anyone (Carole is clearly the best, but still off-putting in the way that everyone I've met who is dedicated to a single-issue focus can be), and can't stop watching.
posted by nubs at 1:26 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Carole, or Howard plus a lawyer more likely, posted a very reasonable and detailed rebuttal to many of the claims in the doc on their site: Refuting Netflix

Makes for interesting reading and goes a lot more into the disappearance of her first husband and his rumored wealth. I still think she talked a giant load of bullshit in many of her interviews and that's why so many people got a weird vibe from her but this is a well laid out and supported rebuttal to the claims of murder for money. Now I think there is a good chance Anne McQueen killed him instead.
posted by fshgrl at 5:33 PM on March 30 [5 favorites]


I'm going with the airplane theory. He didn't have a pilot license, but kept flying them anyway, and kept crashing them? And right behind that would be "he took a secret stash of money down to Costa Rica so that he could bang prostitutes until he died." It also doesn't make sense that Carole would have been left destitute in a divorce; his first wife and daughters somehow ended up with 10% of his estate. Whatever happened, he seems to have been a pretty awful man and the people who are willing to support, explicitly or implicitly, the Carole-did-it theory frankly seem to have been the sort who were willing to put up with a squirrelly philanderer in the hopes of making more money off of him. (Also, the link that fshgrl just posted.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:47 PM on March 30 [7 favorites]


Just finished episode 5.

Most of this doc is about Joe and his zoo, but 90 percent of what I see on social media is people yelling "Carole killed her husband!" It's infuriating. There's one episode dedicated to that mystery and it doesn't take too close a watch to see that there's absolutely nothing supporting the accusations. Everyone they interviewed has an obvious vested interest in discrediting Carole. They let Joe present his theories as if they're credible, despite the fact that he's a nutbar.

The ex and her kids... nope, no bias there. They cry about how Carole took everything, while living comfortably in their McMansion on a trust that Carole GAVE THEM.

It's standard practice in our society to accuse a powerful, dedicated woman of being crazy, or manipulative, or even a murderer. Doesn't matter how outlandish, those rumors stick because she's a woman and because most people believe that any successful woman got there by duplicity and sex.

It's really disappointing that the filmmakers decided to lean in to this tired old narrative, and even more troubling that so many intelligent folks are swallowing it without thinking.
posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 7:01 AM on March 31 [19 favorites]


I agree but I blame the doc makers more than the public. They could, maybe should, have focused on the treatment of the cats, but chose to focus on the people. And ultimately Joe is just another sad, fucked up tweaker surrounded by sad, marginalized, fucked up addicts. Wide swaths of America are full of that, there's no mystery there. And the public do love a good juicy unsolved mystery so when one presented itself they sensationalized it and presented random people's thoughts as fact, with no counterpoints or actual research. They clearly implied she killed him and they did it for ratings, there was no evidence.

Carole never should have agreed to talk about it on film and definitely shouldn't have told bold faced lies about their relationship, but Carole is pretty detached from reality, lets face it.

Howard probably thought they'd be treated legitimately as aninal rights activists, and was naive when it came to reality TV. I'm sure he'd have sued the pants off Netflix if he could. Doc was wise to them, being full of shit himself, and not about to give them any rope to hang him, ditto for Jeff and his "partner".
posted by fshgrl at 3:58 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Huh. That was a wild ride, not necessarily one that I feel good about having gone on.

I found myself fascinated by what the process must have been like to start filming what they must have thought was a story about an eccentric exotic animal guy that turned into this huge, crazy tale. It's a little hard to tell where they came into it but certainly before the charges were filed, right?

I started out not feeling good about Carole, but in retrospect I feel like I was being manipulated to not like her. Having watched the whole thing, I'm not sure I like Carole in the sense of having warm fuzzies about her, but objectively seems like she's just a somewhat uncharismatic woman who seems to have a legit cause mayyybe for the wrong reasons (undecided), has dealt with decades of nasty rumors about murdering her husband, and then dealt with receiving public death threats for years. If the doc makers wanted to convince me she'd murdered her husband, they should have gotten someone more credible than Doc and Joe to tell us so, for ffs. I feel like the entire internet is all 'carole baskins murdered her husband' and it's like... maybe there are other reasons that a sketchy philandering costa rican jaunting cat breeding multimillionaire amatuer pilot could have disappeared, you know?

And 100% agree on the filming hijinks they used with Carole-- definitely noticed the weird camera slowing thing they did to try to make her look like some sort of triumphant scheming mastermind.

Joe was definitely painted in a sympathetic light, it's hard not to feel sorry for him even though objectively he did a lot of pretty terrible stuff throughout. That archived footage of the news broadcast from when he first opened the zoo was pretty interesting, I wish they'd dug into his backstory a little more.

Doc, Jeff and James were all just breathtakingly terrible.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:35 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


I've got one episode left, and this got much uglier than I was expecting. So many awful people.

Joe strikes me as a predator in his own way of keeping young men as replaceable companions and contented with drugs to have sex with him. The conditions at his zoo were awful — seeing that pen with 14 tigers waiting to be fed Walmart scraps was clearly abuse. I know it's private, but how does a place have 227 tigers without some authority knowing that's there? Watching his staff do veterinary work on the cats? Selling the tigers as quickly as possible to generate income? I get why Carole wanted to shut him down. And truly, I don't care what happened to Don Lewis. Carole has her identity tied up with the cats in similar ways that Joe does, but it doesn't seem like she's making the problem worse.

In stark relief is how much more sophisticated Jeff and Doc are. Just as, if not more, predatory, but so much better at hiding it. Had the filmmakers not found an ex-employee of Doc's zoo, the documentary wouldn't have had much to show about the dysfunction of T.I.G.E.R.S. We know that Doc is selling cubs because of the other guys in the series saying they bought from him.
posted by gladly at 8:29 AM on April 1 [9 favorites]


It's totally illegal to buy or sell tigers btw. I have no idea a) how everyone is getting away with it and b) why anyone would admit to doing it on camera! Also that weird Chucky doll looking informant guy may have been the creepiest person on the entire show.
posted by fshgrl at 12:20 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


One of my friends pointed out that all the people interviewed tried to present themselves as the only reasonable person in the whole thing.

I personally found the campaign manager to actually be reasonable. Walmart ammo clerk and Libertarian aside. And I agree with someone upthread that the footage of him witnessing Travis’ death was really genuinely disturbing.

Saff seemed pretty reasonable too, but the choice to get his hand amputated ASAP so he could get back to work and save face for Joe was totally against the advice he would have gotten from AskMe, where the advice on HR-type questions like that is almost always “your organization gives no fucks about you personally and they don’t deserve your loyalty.” Heh.
posted by liet at 8:11 AM on April 2 [7 favorites]


Finally finished it, and I have a few more comments:

- I really want to like Saff, but his parting comment about how no animals are being treated better as a result of all this is, hmm, wrong and wrong-headed. One less tiger breeder is one less group of tigers being churned out in their big kitty mill and then being "euthanized" when they're too big for cute photo ops. Seems like there's a lot of denial there.

- Likewise, I feel sorry for the campaign manager having to live with the memory of Travis' death, but his bit at the end, where he's trying to argue that the Big Cat Rescue people would be better off trying to save their natural habitats... has he thought that through? As in, that would probably have to be done by Big Government getting involved? Has he worked out how that jibes with his politics?

- Some people have criticized Carole and Howard for their shrimp-and-champagne party post conviction, but good fucking golly, if I'd been dogged by this guy for years and found out that he'd actually sent a guy to whack me, I'd need to hire someone to follow me around afterwards and remind me that I had several years of sobriety under my belt. The only reason that Joe didn't go down for murder one is that that scary-looking motherfucker apparently went to a titty bar instead of doing the job. (And check out fucking Doc going, "You don't hire a hitman for three grand!" Dude.)

- And, finally, yeah, I feel a little less than clean at having gotten so wrapped up in this extraordinarily sordid story, but I feel some real sympathy for a lot of the people caught up in the orbits of these people, particularly Joe's, and have to deal with the aftermath. I mean, I've been to jail, and met a lot of people that reminded me of some of the people in this story in recovery, and get the impulse to get a bit nostalgic about their past even as they're still dealing with the wreckage.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:42 PM on April 2 [8 favorites]


Ok, in a sea of batshittery there was one thing that kind of stood out for me: when one of Joe's employee's arms got chewed (or ripped through the cage, whatever) up by a tiger Joe was on scene wearing a paramedic's jacket and cap. Dude obviously heard there was an issue then ran to his wardrobe and threw on that jacket then went to assist. No doubt there was footage of him doing so, while probably grumbling colorful and cynical things, and that footage was among the other ten million batshit things captured that was subsequently lost when Joe (allegedly) set fire to it all. It just encapsulated the whole infinitely low rent shitshow sham for me.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


Burhanistan, when we were watching that scene we actually paused it to discuss how that probably went down. "Oh fuck someone got their arm ripped off? Lemme swing by my trailer, I have the perfect jacket for this situation."
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:00 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Oh man good catch with Joe's outfit during the arm situation. I missed that entirely.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:01 PM on April 3


I don't know what episode I'm on because I keep sleeping through them. I was trying to binge it because my friend did and we were supposed to discuss, like book club, but it's not working because methbabble soothes me to sleep during these troubled plague times. Anyway, all I want to know is, how does the Doc shithead get away with overfeeding those cats the way he does? What's the plan, stuff 'em til they can't run fast enough to grab him and pop his malignant grape head? Why is he alive, assuming he is? It's baffling.
posted by Don Pepino at 5:10 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Anyway, all I want to know is, how does the Doc shithead get away with overfeeding those cats the way he does?
Part of the reason that a lot of Doc Antle's cats look weird is because he keeps breeding hybrids.
Ligers are usually bigger, and tigons, while not bigger, have unusual proportions that make them look fat.
posted by ishmael at 11:24 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


This is accurate, but also the cats are often obese. For one thing, there is a certain amount of advertising clout you can get for having the "biggest" animals or whatever, and Hercules the liger (owned by Doc Antle) is both obese and has a Guinness World Ranking as the biggest big cat in the world--as measured, of course, by weight.

Here is a body condition score used by zoos for lions. You can clearly see that both Doc Antle and the GW Zoo cats are often much closer to the 7-8 obesity ends of this scale than the "good weight" ones. Both facilities' ligers appear a lot in the documentary--the cat who tries to make off with Joe's boot is a liger--and ligers appear to be prone both to obesity and to increased body size compared to their parent species.

Joe's cats are also quite probably often obese during the documentary because of the low quality of food provided by the Wal-Mart delivery items, which will have a lot in the way of fat and carbohydrate compared with a theoretical whole-prey diet.
posted by sciatrix at 12:11 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


Hey, if it's good enough for tigers it's good enough to put on pizza to sell to visitors!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:29 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


The docuseries explores abuse on so many fronts - the farming, the denatured natural environment for these animals, the cruel transportation (of course, humans do this every day to other non human species that are not exotic, eg calves). Joe, Doc, Jeff perform the same kind of farming as they corral, transport, denature and drug other humans in the service of their own ends. That this from of animal husbandry also entails men creating harems of disposable, interchangeable dependents to perform vital aspects of the business is hardly incidental.


So much of ‘reality tv’ is about getting purchase of our emotions, and this series has several layers to the purchase. The human zoo of cretins, the love triangles, the bitter duel/revenge cycle, the karma angle, the dull and doped eyes of both animals and humans... All these daft, cruel and mercenary habits are put to the stupid service, the shallow emotions, of ignorant supremacists holding mewling, stolen animals ... the zoo farms themselves offer only the cheapest emotional rides at the great cost to animals.

The docuseries is a more complex offering, I felt its chief value was its turning of our childish reflexes towards young furry cute animals, fantasy creatures, the toys of our infancy (there are plush tigers everywhere in the series), the usually untamed and fear-inspiring relationship of such animals to humans, towards disgust and lament. In this respect it does a job similar to other animal rights series or documentaries.

I came away from the series with the segment in the last episode showing the two apes hugging each other in a sanctuary, after ten years living in adjoining cages, imprinted on my soul. I can’t get past how shit humans are to every element of their non-human world. I wept when Joe used a hook to drag the tiger cub from her mother seconds after birth, and their crying later in cages. In many respects I came away with the same kinds of emotional responses I’ve had to other exposés of human excess, greed, patriarchal possession, cruelty and multi generational trauma.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:44 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


I came away from the series with the segment in the last episode showing the two apes hugging each other in a sanctuary, after ten years living in adjoining cages, imprinted on my soul.

Huh. All right, maybe I'll skip to the last episode and watch that. Maybe. If it's possible. Possible would be if a year or two have passed and it's still on Netflix and a. I'm still alive and b. "Doc Antle" is not still alive. Last night I watched Trixie Mattel. It makes good eyewash.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:46 AM on April 5


I think a few points of comparison between Carole and Joe are how the tigers/animals are handled when they die. We do a quick pan over dozens of individualized memorial plaques that have died at Carole's sanctuary, whereas with Joe, we find out after some remodelling that at least five tigers were unceremoniously shot (for reasons never fully explained) and buried anonymously on the same evening in a mass grave. That, plus Carole's husband actually seems like a rational person, whereas Joe surrounds himself with people who are, if not completely irrational, don't seem to have a lot of critical thinking skills at their disposal. I think these points of comparison say a lot about the individuals. I also find it extremely unsettling that Carole's rape at knife-point when she was 14 is glossed over, as well as the fact that Joe Exotic literally bankrupts his parents through negligence and manipulation with intent to deceive, after giving a sob story about how his parents were mean to him or whatever when he was a kid. Joe also touts out his brother's early death and "dream" at every opportune moment (when he needs money, basically) which I find absolutely appalling. Other people have mentioned how Saff chose to go back to work after having his arm bitten off, but Joe was also cool with that decision. The Walmart meat truck shots were so disturbing, too- that the employees were taking the "best" cuts before feeding them to the tigers. I thought a little more about the scene where the tiger chews on Joe's shoes (which is such a scary moment!!), and I wonder if the tiger was just legitimately hungry. If his shoes were leather, or if he has any scent of food on them, or whatever. And that makes me super sad for the tigers. Plus Joe would just rip the babies away from their mothers before they could bond. IT'S NOT OK. The whole situation is abhorrent. Carole makes me feel a little icky, but Joe is a monster. The chimps hugging also imprinted on me. I can't imagine how depressed and traumatized they were/are.

I get angry that people have to be lead to make decisions about moral/immoral judgement, too. Like why is cardi B defending Joe and starting a GoFundMe for him? He's an awful fucking person! He's squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars and ruined lives, and murdered tigers. He bankrupted his parents and preyed on teenagers. He's legitimately an actual sexual predator. Not to mention the other stuff like hiring someone for murder. I mean, Christ!

"Doc" antle is also a giant piece of shit. He makes me physically ill. He's also very smug and self satisfied, which adds an extra layer of vomiteyness to his grossass persona. He definitely warrants another investigation.

Close all zoos!!
posted by erattacorrige at 11:35 AM on April 5 [7 favorites]


Howard Baskin's response to the series, which I found genuinely touching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A5rS839-ig

The internet's reaction feels like Hillary Clinton all over again. I'm disappointed that so many people are taking the side of a guy who's made credible and disturbing death threats against this woman and her loved ones for a decade.
posted by archagon at 4:56 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


The filmmaker's position (I don't remember which article, it's buried in my browser history) is that the Baskins who aren't interested in the truth. And that's why they portrayed them that way in the documentary. So it's particularly interesting that Mr. Baskin made this youtube video saying the filmmakers don't care about the truth.

I think between Netflix's relatively clean popular reputation thus far, and Carole Baskin's demonstrated media savviness, the question is why in the world did the documentary portray the Baskins the way they did? I think it's not uncommon that documentary subjects complain about unfair portrayal. Why did (or why would) Netflix allow this to happen? I would imagine that the Netflix demographic would object to being manipulated in this way.
posted by polymodus at 3:29 AM on April 7


It's been Netflix's #1 most-watched program for 15 days straight, beating the previous record.

I'm in a few toxic Tiger King Facebook groups and the sentiment is largely that while Joe is a weird guy, there's really no evidence he did anything wrong, unlike thatbitchdowninfloridawhomurderedherhusbandcarolefuckingbaskins. Apparently the animal abuse evident in the series isn't enough, but there's ample evidence to convict Carole. The man just wants to pet his tiger!


They're also all transphobic. I left. Everyone hates Jeff Lowe.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:46 AM on April 7


The filmmaker's position (I don't remember which article, it's buried in my browser history) is that the Baskins who aren't interested in the truth. ...Mr. Baskin made this youtube video saying the filmmakers don't care about the truth.

Who the hell has time for the truth right now? All I know is, Doc Antler needs to be eaten by his ligers.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:23 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I suspect they're lickin' their liger fingers like they're at a diner for an all nighter when "doc" dism-antle my bullshit rolls around
posted by erattacorrige at 8:49 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]




Hey, fshgirl, you say a couple of times about how Carole lied easily about meeting Don, and saying bold-faced lies on camera... how do you know? do you have some insider information? Or have I missed reading the sources that confirm she's lying?
posted by gaspode at 7:15 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Gaspode, I saw someone who lives in the town Carole met Don in who said that Nebraska Ave., where she met Don late at night, is known for patrolling sex workers and johns. Based on how the "documentary" explained the meeting (she was out late at night walking Nebraska Ave, he picked her up, they went to a hotel room immediately), it seems like Carole was probably a sex worker at the time, and that this was a commercial exchange, which IMHO fits more than this meeting happening in purely 'romantic' terms. The series mentions that much later Don got a restraining order against Carole for threatening to kill him, and I wonder if the whole relationship wasn't abusive up and down. Meeting via sex work transaction and getting married may not be the best start to a healthy relationship and/or power dynamic.
posted by erattacorrige at 5:01 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Your own comment betrays a bias against sex workers. Since lots of Americans harbor that same bias, is it any surprise she would lie about it even if it were true?
posted by miss-lapin at 6:11 PM on April 8 [4 favorites]


I was trying to figure out a way to write about it in a factual way that was sensitive to sex workers. I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to come off that way. I barely know anything about this Carole Baskin/ Don situation, the documentary is really biased and unfairly skewed against Carole IMHO and I don't blame her at all for being guarded. Signed, a woman who once worked in a strip club.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:27 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Also, the first interaction between Don and Carole, he points a gun in her face before agreeing to let her in the car, or something like that-- awful. Like Carole was raped at 14, married off as a teenager to a much older abusive man, potentially does sex work, and has a gun pointed at her by her future husband. And Carole doesn't even really complain during the documentary. I think that she realizes she's damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. No matter what she says, people will spin it to make Carole out to be a psychopath, which seems to be the general consensus on the internet.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:37 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Honestly if Carol killed her creep husband and fed him to the tigers that makes me like her more.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:17 AM on April 9 [12 favorites]




Hey, fshgirl, you say a couple of times about how Carole lied easily about meeting Don, and saying bold-faced lies on camera... how do you know? do you have some insider information? Or have I missed reading the sources that confirm she's lying?

He picked her up in the red light district at 2am and they went straight to a hotel room. She was clearly a sex worker, which is fine. And imho lying about it is also fine, if I were her I would lie too. But the way she told this ludicrous story with all the little details like the potato and the gun: either she's an idiot, she believes her own version of events or was basically daring the interviewer to call her on it. I've had media training and that's like the first thing they tell you: you don't have to answer questions but if you do, for the love of God, don't make shit up.

I imagine her middle class educated supporters are there because their values align with the organization and the organization is well run and enjoyable to work for, not because she's media savvy, because she is most definitely not. Her husband is. Notice they only asked her the tough questions when he wasn't present and also that he started participating in interviews part way through.
posted by fshgrl at 1:36 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


if Carol killed her creep husband and fed him to the tigers that makes me like her more.
This cuts right to the heart of the issue and shines a bright light on the core flaw ofthe show, namely that too few of the characters on it are eviscerated and eaten by ligers/tigrocelots/name your favorite mutated inbred overfed cat.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:32 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]


I kept having the feeling that if I tapped the side of the TV and adjusted the settings right, the palette would get a bit more muted and there'd be a third as much talking and it would become a perfect early-career Paul Thomas Anderson movie. The Americana, the grift, the dysfunctional families, the amazing cast of sad shy helpers around the edges.

Rick Kirkham, the reality show producer with the black hat in the empty coffee shop? Utterly a Philip Baker Hall character. Carole Baskin? Julianne Moore. All the other roles to be divvied up between Philip Seymour Hoffman (.) and John C. Reilly. Lord could Reilly play that Jeff Lowe POS perfectly. His smirking and showing the camera a picture of the hot new nanny at the end is so clownishly repulsive that I literally fell off the couch when I saw it.

Also Jonny Greenwood + "I Saw a Tiger" =??
posted by miles per flower at 8:00 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Another way the producers of this failed was they didn’t try to deconstruct Lowe’s con artist ability. He was super shady yet so calm and well spoken compared to pretty much anyone else profiled. It’s one thing to have scenes like the nanny one that just gawk at his scumminess instead of actually taking it apart.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:59 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


IVe been texting a baffled friend how I want a himbo husband of my own. Very weird intersection of gay sexualized threats to a woman. And the total bisexual erasure for Joe’s partners - I wish this had been more about the people and relationships, not mudslinging rants.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:14 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Lowe’s con artist ability
Yeah, I have a lot of questions about the shape of Lowe's grift too, which was referred to but not explored much. (James's too! His storefront was the frontiest front ever fronted.) And I'm curious about how the Jungle Bus failed. The world is dumb enough that "like Uber, but it's in Vegas and there's baby tigers" should have succeeded somehow.
posted by miles per flower at 10:00 AM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Following Jeff Lowe on Facebook, it looks like they kept operating the zoo after they were advised that they're not an essential business. After that, he announced on Facebook of specific times and dates that they'd be coming out to the front gate to allow people to meet and greet and take photos. So there were groups of folks gathered, which then caused more people to gather to take photos and shame those people.

Eventually the Sheriff was called and Jeff Lowe explained that they had a special livestock exemption from the governor's office. The Sheriff left, called the governor, found out Jeff Lowe is full of shit and then came back and dispersed everyone.

Looks like they're doing it again, and they're now selling "Tiger King Park" merch.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:41 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]


The follow-up episode where they do interviews via iphone with a bunch of people is up on Netflix now.
I think there's supposed to be another full episode but I have no idea.
Anyway, it's just short interviews with most of the staff who were featured, the Inside Edition guy, Jeff Lowe and the campaign manager. No Carole, no Doc and definitely no Joe.
posted by LostInUbe at 1:49 AM on April 12


I hope the ratings tank for the follow up episode. This whole thing is whack and unending toxic masculinity.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:37 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


There's no way that would happen. I'm watching it right now, I'm afraid.

It's remarkable that everybody who worked with Joe is underlining one message: fuck that guy. They are not about that "free Joe Exotic" meme. Even Saff, who talks about Joe's generosity to the community, agrees he belongs in jail. There's a worse story of his animal cruelty in this one, if you can believe that.

Poor Josh is trying to raise money for counseling for himself. He had to work in that office and look at that bullet hole every day.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:37 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


Oh, yeah. I've seen more than my share of gruesome video but just seeing his reaction only (and not the accidental suicide) was really fucking disturbing. And he kept coming back.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:00 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


After reading this thread and reading up on what's coming. I have stopped watching after episode two.

Joe is scum, Doc is scum. The producers are border line scum.

Carol might be a weird person, but the producers were deceitful. This was supposed to be Blackfish for tigers. Not let's believe everything her detractors said about her.

Instead that have made Carol and Howard's lives hell. Howard at the very least comes across as a sweet gentle caring person. And does not deserve any of the this garbage.

By continuing to watch, I feel I am rewarding the producers.
posted by KaizenSoze at 10:32 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I watched the follow-up episode last night, and although I may be somewhat biased to approve of just about anything that Joel McHale does because Community on Netflix is helping me stay sane, I had much the same reaction as Countess Elena--no one is letting Joe Exotic off the hook at all. He left a whole lot of human wreckage behind him. The follow-up also stays almost completely away from Carole, which is a relief.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


The big lie in 'Tiger King' and the truth about Carole Baskin.

tl;dr the Tiger King producers are pretty sleazy.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:21 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


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