NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Tiger King: A documentary that seems like fiction

If I told you there was a documentary about a gay polygamist Republican tiger owning cowboy, would you believe me?  Well, if you haven’t seen Tiger King you probably wouldn’t. For those who don’t know, Tiger King is a documentary on Netflix, it was released on March 20, 2020. It couldn’t have released at a better time either, it was released during the start of the pandemic lockdowns. Everyone was inside and didn’t have anything better to do so they watched Tiger King. is the timing of it release the only reason for its success?

For those who haven’t seen Tiger King and don’t want it spoiled according to the IMDB plot summary “Among the eccentrics and cult personalities in the stranger-than-fiction world of big cat owners, few stand out more than Joe Exotic , a mulleted, gun-toting polygamist and country western singer who presides over an Oklahoma roadside zoo. Charismatic but misguided, Joe and an unbelievable cast of characters including drug kingpins, conmen, and cult leaders all share a passion for big cats and the status and attention their dangerous menagerie’s garner. But things take a dark turn when Carole Baskin, an animal activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary, threatens to put them out of business, stoking a rivalry that eventually leads to Joe’s arrest for a murder-for-hire plot, and reveals a twisted tale where the only thing more dangerous than a big cat is its owner.”

What I like about the show is that it does a masterful job of  documenting these characters. it will show you one person and you will think they are normal but then they will hit you with the crazy aspect of them. For example, after the introduce Joe Exotic  they introduce Carole Baskin, at first she seems just to be some normal woman who cares about tigers and is the enemy of joe. Later in that episode, you find out that Carole Baskin was a primary suspect in the murder case of her first husband and that some suspect her of having fed her first husband to one of the tigers. That is only one of the major twists and turns of the series. Another thing I like about the series is how they keep it short and sweet. The whole show is only seven episodes long and it does a carful job of stringing together the story and keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat

I decided to get a outside opinion on the show. When asked student Faith Barrett had this to say “I think the overall investigative journalism about Joe Exotic  was very well done. You really got to see the real him and what he has gone through over the years.  I think it would’ve been popular if it wasn’t for quarantine, but I think the overall spread of popularity would have taken a lot longer. I feel like everyone was really bored and looking for another reality show to watch.”

Barrett makes a good point. Regardless of the pandemic Tiger King would have been popular. It has all the good makings of a classic tv show. It has drama, it has comedy, it has a entertaining cast. I think the main draw to the show is that it’s a true story. on the surface level this whole show seems unbelievable but with the time and investigative journalism that was put into the show it backs it up. as I said before I think regardless of the pandemic, the show would have been popular, it just would of taken longer. With the pandemic it has given people the time to experience underrated entertainment.