Joe Exotic is a fascinating but extremely naive and misguided animal park boss that leads a wild cast of characters that include drug lords, con artists and cult leaders who all share a passion for large and exotic cats. This is a dark and extremely disturbing insight into some of the controversial big cat rivalry’s taking place in the United States.
They say it’s better late than never so here goes this review of Tiger King! Like most Netflix documentaries, I found this release to be extremely easy to watch and insightful at the same time too. I think one of the main strengths was the fact that this was made using footage taken over a span of several years after the documentary maker gained full access to many of the animal parks featured in the show.
Rather interestingly, each of the seven episodes seemed to cover a different sub-plot within the main story it was hoping to cover on a whole, which meant the story developed slowly but as a viewer, you got a good understanding of what was trying to be conveyed. For instance, the opening couple of episodes covered Joe Exotic himself, along with the introduction of Carole Baskin and their rivalry, along with many of the allegations Carole had faced in the past. The later episodes managed to cover Joe’s own heartache, political run and involvement with the shady businessman, Jeff Lowe.
When a documentary features so many characters (as this does), it can tricky to appreciate them and understand their role in the story but with each character in this documentary having such varied and distinctive features, that wasn’t really an issue here. Characters such as Joe and Carole were so outlandish and unique, the makers did a really good job in letting them deliver their personalities to the viewer and captivate the minds of millions.
With that being said, I can certainly understand the critics that claim this could have been a far shorter show. As mentioned, however, I personally believe the length enabled the viewer to gain a wider understanding of the exotic animal community and when there’s footage that spans over many years, it’s sometimes worth the extra content. Another thing to note would be the fact that I never really felt the show dragged, purely because of the effectiveness of the pacing.
Somewhat controversially, Joe Exotic now finds himself locked up and charged with the murder-for-hire plot to kill his fierce rival. Throughout the show however, Joe Exotic wasn’t particularly painted out as the enemy – with Carole Baskin and Jeff Lowe receiving much of the backlash and animosity from viewers.
Ultimately, this probably wasn’t worthy of the hype that has surrounded it for the previous few weeks, but at the same time it was very easy to watch and thoroughly enjoyable at times. It is worth noting too that this documentary did include one of, if not the most shocking and traumatic moments in any documentary I’ve personally witnessed, when it followed the final moments of Travis Maldonado, one of Joe Exotic’s husbands. A truly terrifying moment captured partially on camera that was delivered excellently.