Sebastian Lucumi | staff writer

We all have that one friend who loves documentaries a bit too much.

“Hey dude, did you know that plastic makes you shorter,” or “hey bro, did you know that Santa Claus was started by Coca Cola in the early 20th century!”

Needless to say, we all know that one guy who’ll start rambling about dinosaur facts when given the opportunity. And it’s all because of that one friend, that the multitude of people think of documentaries as boring, uninteresting, and depressing movies about doom and gloom. Most people would prefer to watch just about anything, like the Emoji Movie, before they sit down and watch any documentary… and all that changed with Tiger King. 

After the pandemic has come to pass, the country will see itself divided into two camps : those who watched Tiger King and those who didn’t. I can count myself among the former.

Tiger King is a Netflix documentary, but I struggle to call it something so preposterous. Instead, I see it as informative reality TV, that won’t make you want to tear your eyes out. This series of seven-45 minute adventures focuses on Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, or better known as Joe Exotic: a self-described redneck, smack-talking, homosexual, polygamous, gun-totting, convicted felon, zoo operator of a large cat enclosure in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Did I mention he has a gorgeous mullet? 

Now, I already know what you’re thinking: this is gonna be focused on treatment of animals – but you’d be wrong!

While that is briefly detailed here and there as a means of describing the people, Tiger King focuses mostly on the bizarre, illegal, cut-throat stupidity and general absurdity of the human higher ups of the big cat world; founder of “Big Cat Rescue” and advocate against private ownership of large cats, Carole Baskin, her husband, Howard Baskin, Tiger breeder and showman, Joe Exotic, nicknamed the Tiger King, and whole host of other wacky, illegal, and down right deplorable characters. 

This is a riveting tale, start to finish with so many dumb yet hilarious plot twists, it shows like an M. Night Shyamalan movie (but actually good). Another thing this show does incredibly, is it masterfully yet accurately portrays almost every person involved as detestable. Typically, in documentaries it is just one person who is rooted for by everyone against all the evil corporations trying to silence the truth. However, what is oddly refreshing in Tiger King, is that nobody is good: everyone is portrayed to have some dirt on them, and so the question morphs from being,“who’s the good one?” to “who sucks the least?” which really adds to the theme of absurdity, unpredictability, and bewilderment. Tiger King, as any good documentary ought to, leaves very little questions unanswered, but leaves many viewers with wanting more updates since release. 

Tiger King, through the route of entertainment, has shone a light on a very dark and horrible corner of the market. The documentary involves topics of animal abuse, euthanasia, murder for hire, attempted murder, suicide, Joe running for president, murder conspiracy, and more subtly, Machiavellianism, personality cultism, group think, and self-destructive ambition. The documentary is vaguely like a real retelling of Macbeth, only with guns, mullets, gay sex, a spice of politics, and everything else that would scare away the pope. 

Overall, the documentary is excellent: it’s a great story, with constant entertainment, a breeding ground for opinion, and all the excitement you could want with all of us on lockdown. I would give the documentary an A+. It’s a refreshing breath of air, reminding us of how something so seemingly boring (documentaries) can actually be fun once in a while. And ultimately, that’s all that we can hope to find out about our own predicament as well.

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