“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” review

Brianna Neuhouser, Digital Media Manager

Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Jeff Lowe, and Doc Antle were not household names. That is until the documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” hit Netflix on March 20th. The limited series follows the life of gun-toting big cat zoo owner and operator of G.W. Zoo, Joe Exotic. It exposes the life of the big cat underworld and does it so spectacularly that viewers don’t know who to root for. 

The main plot point for the series is the tension between Exotic and Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. In fact, at the beginning of the series, viewers catch a scene of Exotic in the Grady County Jail for hiring a hitman on Baskin, as well as killing five tiger cubs. What’s really one of the most important points to note for the show is that no matter what angle you look at it, Baskin and Exotic are doing the same things. They are both profiting off of the exploitation of these beautiful animals.

There’s also a small subplot that really exploded on the internet: Carole Baskin killed her husband and fed him to the cats. In August of 1997, Jack “Don” Lewis went missing, never seen again. 22 years later, when his wife, Baskin, was interviewed about it for Netflix, the way she spoke about it unsettled many viewers. She chuckled a few times and overall just seemed distant from it. That can be attributed to the time between the disappearance and the interview, but it is still discomforting to see someone talk so flippantly about the disappearance of someone they supposedly loved. Sheriff Chad Chronister of Hillsborough County, Florida, says their tip line received an average of six tips a day on the cold case after the show aired. 

However, the most important thing to remember among the fun, theories, and sheer comedy of it all, viewers must remember the victims. The cats in the zoo and the Big Cat “Rescue” are still being exploited and hurt, possibly even more now as the show drives more attention. While this is a fun and interesting thing to watch and learn about in full isolation, there needs to be the understanding that something has to be done about it. The show, despite being seventeen different levels of insanity, earns a solid 4.5 stars out of 5. It is incredibly well filmed and it keeps your attention so easily. I won’t give it a 5 simply because they don’t really discuss how horribly messed up the entire situation is. If you have a particularly huge problem with animal abuse, I highly recommend you stay away from the show. However, if you can stomach that and you want to learn about this underground world, it’s definitely worth the watch.