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Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (MA15+) review


Meet Joe Exotic. Joe owns Oklahoma’s most famous exotic animal zoo, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which houses as many as 200 big cats and over 50 species of animals.

The quintessential redneck showman, Joe is a flamboyant, openly gay, gun-toting, big cat lover. Joe is the Tiger King.

Netflix have established themselves as true-crime documentary royalty. 2015’s Making a Murderer saw the streaming service announce itself, then myriad subsequent efforts including The Staircase and Evil Genius have got the world hooked on their brand of true-crime.

If Instagram’s fast and farcical meme-based response to Tiger King is anything to go by, this could turn out to be the jewel in their crown.

Tiger King is a deep dive into the fascinating niche sub-culture that is exotic animal ownership in the Southern United States, examining the feuds, fatalities, murder plots, million dollar lawsuits and bizarre country music videos that make up the war to be the South’s big cat.

With a lens on every moment, we follow three big players in the field over the course of six years, 2013-2019: Exotic, his sworn enemy, wild cat ‘conservationist’ Carole Baskin, and tiger ‘guru’ Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle. All flawed, all eccentric, and all running cult-like operations.

Viewers are thrown on the back of an ATV and driven deep into the jungle of the exotic animal world by quickly getting to know the key players, while simultaneously having the nuances of the sub-culture explained to them, and seeing the documentary’s main plotline: Exotic’s dramatic fall from grace that sees the Tiger King dethroned and caged in a prison cell.

Tiger King also profiles the bit-players; former staff, other off-Broadway big cat owners, partners, reality TV producers and more, all of whom add fascinating context and insight to the series.

The five-hour 17-minute saga is broken up over seven episodes, each masterfully edited to wind up on a cliff-hanger that’ll have you saying ‘just one more episode’ until you reach the series’ open ending that leaves the cage door ajar.

Tiger King is available now on Netflix.

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