How Netflix’s New Docuseries “Tiger King” Pushes a New Agenda

Allison Cundiff, Staff Writer

Netflix’s new docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, has caused quite the uproar on social media. 

The docuseries follows the life of Greater Wynnewood Zoo owner, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, as he works through running his zoo, government elections, a murder plot, and protecting his zoo from another big cat zoo owner, Carole Baskin. 

In the first few episodes, we learn the employees’ perspective of Joe and many of the zoo’s legal issues. Throughout the filming of the docuseries, the G.W. Zoo faces many legalities pushed by Big Cat Rescue owner, Carole Baskin. In 2013, Baskin sued Exotic for copyright infringement for ads he had used to promote his zoo. He had used an ad very similar to Baskin’s to promote his zoo. Even going as far as coming up with a phone number and address with a Florida area code. This suit was settled after Exotic and Baskin both agreed on Exotic paying 1 million dollars in reparations. 

In the following episodes, the series focuses on Baskin and Big Cat Safari owner, Bhugavan “Doc” Antle. One episode focuses on Baskin’s missing husband, Don Lewis, after Exotic and Antle both push for the belief that Baskin killed her husband. 

Going into the series, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Based off of Netflix’s plethora of true crime documentaries, I knew it would be good. In my opinion, these odd true crime case documentaries are Netflix’s bread and butter. Each documentary has something to make it stand out in comparison to other crimes. I knew it would contain some absurdity and oddness based upon the title, but I didn’t understand how wild it would get. Eric Goode had done an amazing job in capturing the story. He had managed to get every side of the story, including the truth.

Although Carole Baskin had received the “villain edit” of the series, I think each big cat park owner was villainous in their own way and the documentary was able to showcase that. It managed to show how cutthroat the big cat industry is and how inhumane it is, showcasing the cruelty of cub petting and these parks. 

This documentary managed to tell the story of a murder for hire plot with an underlying message of how absurd big cat parks and owning exotic animals is. There are more tigers privately owned in the U.S., than in the wild. These tigers need to be where they belong; Asia and Africa.

Unfortunately, Goode was the only beneficiary of this documentary. The tigers and other cats should’ve benefited from the documentary but didn’t.

Aside from that, I would highly recommend this documentary. Its captivating and immersive style draws you in and you become more and more invested with every episode. 

If you have watched Tiger King, feel free to comment your thoughts on the show in our comment section!