Some movies work because they’re so heavy on content that it becomes a no-brainer for the audience to fall in love with it. Tiger King is one of those shows which garnered all the love (and hate) across the world. This series released on the 20th of March was watched so many times on Netflix because of all the drama (Not for the lack of a better word; It is high-octane drama), the out-of-the-world characters, their quirky ideologies and of course, The Big Cats they owned. Yes, this show traverses around the lives of three people who are extremely in love with tigers.
If there’s a list of shows that would restore our belief in that fact that humans are the most dangerous beings on earth, then Tiger King has to be on that list. Joe Exotic is a flamboyant zookeeper who has built an empire raring tigers. Like any good docu-series, he has an arch nemesis- Carole Baskin. She’s a self-proclaimed animal rights activist and her husband calls her the ‘Mother Teresa of Tigers’ (Take some time for that to sink in!). There’s another character who’s a disciple of Swami Satchidananda, Bhagwan ‘Doc’ Antle (his name is the least crazy thing about him).
Both of them grow up having troubled lives. Joe gets abandoned by his family when he stops being a closet homosexual and Carole gets raped very early-on and has a very traumatic life. Another binding factor between the two of them is that they look up to these animals as a way of finding stability but they have their ways of dealing with these tigers. One on hand, we have Joe who is very transparent about the fact that he wants to make money with these big cats and then you have Carole on the other. She rescues tigers and fights for their rights.
I have a habit of reading the synopsis of the movie/series I’m about to watch. But for Tiger King, I went straight into the film without an iota of knowledge on what the storyline is. When they showed tigers, introduced a hero-villain angle, talked about peddling of drugs, and quirky characters with even quirkier names, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the web series. It just latches on to you and the only way to be free of the latch is to watch the last episode of the series. This may seem like a hyperbole but you can test this hypothesis yourself ;).
None of the characters command respect from the audience. While it may be fun to listen to Bhagwan ‘Doc’ Antle’s philosophies and have a good laugh over it, you may not want to know this dude in real life. Everyone’s shady to varying degrees and they’re weird, hypocritical and narcissistic ego-maniacs who think they can get away with doing or saying anything. But it is one of those tales you can’t take your eyes off of. After the first two episodes, you’d thank the person who recommended this show to you (Thank me later).
One good thing which worked for me (and many people) is the fact that every episode in the series ends with a major rightly-placed twist that will have you wondering if such crazy people exist in the USA. This show is also laced with hypocrisy. While Carole advocates that a tiger needs 400 square miles of territory in the wild to breed seamlessly, her ‘park’ also has them in cages and they’re not free to roam around. In one episode, you might be rooting for Joe and in the other, you might want Joe to be put behind bars. So yeah, these two people (or anyone on the show) are so flawed that they would put our very own Kabir Singh to shame!
If you were looking at a series to take you through the early days of social distancing, then Tiger King has to be it! This show is batshit insane but in a good way. Once you start with the pilot, you’re bound to be angry or empathize with Joe. There’s no in between. And of course, the majestic and opulent tigers are bound to keep you hooked on to the series. A must-watch, not just to while away time but also understand hypocrisy straight from the horse’s mouth!