I Saw A Tiger: “Tiger King” Mania
April 29, 2020
One of the most talked about TV shows as of right now, if not the most talked-about, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, gained attention nearly overnight and broke the record for the most minutes streamed for a show in one week. Over 5.3 billion minutes of the show were streamed between March 23rd to the 29th. This statistic came to light from the Nielsen Subscription Video on Demand (NSVD) ratings from The Hollywood Reporter. NSVD tracks data for both Netflix and Amazon’s show streams, and stated, according to Gamerant.com, that 170 billion minutes of content was streamed the week of April 6th, due to the Coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the nation. Netflix took part in a third of those numbers, all thanks to Tiger King.
The internet has recently seen a flood of memes, TikTok sounds and articles already written about the series, highlighting many of its downright crazy aspects. Tiger King, the eight-part documentary available on Netflix, has gained insurmountable popularity within the last few weeks and outstanding view numbers as mentioned previously. Directed and produced by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, the series is centered around the charismatic Joe Exotic, owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. It dives deep into what truly goes into the ownership of exotic cats in America, as well as what happens behind the scenes in these man-owned zoos across the country. With about 700 animals inside of G.W, Joe Exotic prides himself in owning such wild animals, and claims to be “giving the animals a second chance.” However, Exotic’s adversary, a woman named Carole Baskin, believes differently. “The minute you meet one of these people who has an exotic cat, [the] first thing they do is [they] whip out those pictures,” she states within the docuseries about the boastings of ordinary people after visiting a zoo with photo options like Exotic’s. “Look at me. I’m holding this cub. Look at me, I’m petting this tiger. Look at me, I’ve got this cat on a leash. It’s all about ‘look at me.’”
Owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, Baskin houses 50+ lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other wildlife species who have been abused, abandoned, orphaned and so on. Baskin and her current husband, Harold, believe that what they are doing is truly saving cats from extinction and a life of misery. They think that what Exotic does, senselessly breeding cats to make a profit in their eyes, is inhumane and just plain wrong. Throughout the show, Exotic voices his frustrations against Big Cat Rescue and his utter dislike for Carole Baskin. This dislike comes to a head at the end of the show, as many more people are introduced throughout each episode that contribute to the incredibly wild true story. In between interviews of Exotic and Baskin themselves, viewers hear from G.W. employees, Big Cat Rescue volunteers and other big-cat owners, including a man named Dr. Bhagavan Antle, who founded The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Those who watch the show discover these interesting perspectives throughout a world hardly ever talked about in mainstream media.
The documentary is filmed throughout the course of five years; five years of countless interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, past employee horror stories, news stories and research into all of the shows’ aspects. It grabs viewers’ attention right away and leaves them with many questions unanswered at the conclusion of each episode. It shifts from both information about these big-cat sites and the ever-changing stories of Exotic and Baskin’s riveting personal lives. Each episode is around 45 minutes long and a lot can happen within those minutes. Every installment of the docuseries leaves viewers even more intrigued than the last one and its sometimes lack of dramatization may leave those who watch wondering how something so wild can be a true story. “There are a lot of questions that people would like answered, and we will see if we can answer those. We do have a ton of footage,” Goode, one of the directors, introduced in an interview with Page Six. Tiger King is a must-watch for those interested in what truly happens in this oftentimes risky-business and the oddly intriguing life of a man driven to madness in his field of work.