You thought the world had already gone mad, that some kind of alien force had taken over the planet – yup, welcome to Tiger King and Joe Exotic (we’re guessing that’s not a real name), something so crazy you won’t know whether to laugh, cry or just stay at home for the rest of your life. You probably won’t think about cats in the same way ever again.
In The Telegraph Chris Bennion says “Tiger King reminds us that humanity isn’t all NHS angels and delivery driver heroes, that in these dark times we also want to see the worst of us too, the vulgar, the profane, the immoral, the seedy.” And Tiger King’s protagonist Joe Exotic does just that, running a nightmare vision of a zoo for big cats and then landing up in jail for trying to have an animal rights activist murdered. Rachel Syme in The New Yorker found the series addictive with its “cast of colorful oddballs living on the fringes of society” and that it “exposes the furry underbelly of a big-cat community I’d never known about, in which the lines between loving wild animals and exploiting them are never quite clear. In the end, I felt queasy at what I had seen, but the time sure had flown.” However, in The Atlantic Sophie Gilbert meticulously unpicks any claim that Tiger King might have to journalistic rigour and worries that it’s part of a wider Netflix shift towards “extreme storytelling… It’s the stuff memes are made of, heavy on visual absurdity and light on meaning. The series is a carnival sideshow not unlike Joe Exotic’s central-Oklahoma park: You see the sign on the side of the road and you stop, not because you want to, necessarily, but because it’s there.”
In a way Tiger King is like the worst kind of fast food – you gobble it up greedily not caring about its dietary implications, only to look, much later on, at the ingredients list as you sit in a food-induced coma, and realise you’ve just fed yourself cat food. The good news is, it probably won’t harm you.
First shown March 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.