Erin Maxwell’s “UnBinged” ratings tell you what you hate, what you love, and what you love to hate. Because city councilors are asking us all to stay at home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, L.A. Weekly provides more frequent and longer glimpses of the hottest streaming TV content worth seeing – or not – from Maxwell and our employees.
Love, hate, betrayal, malicious rivalries, polygamy, sex cults, murder to rent and lions … there seems to be a lot going on in the world of exotic cat breeding.
Netflix’s seven-part documentary series Tiger King: murder, chaos and madness is a strange saga that plays in the various facets of the big cat community and records people who keep wild cats and other exotic creatures for pets and profit and create their own sources of income, theme parks and personality cults for the endangered animals. At the heart of the chaos is Joe Exotic, a large pet owner and part-time country crooner and owner and operator of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.
The history of Tiger King is as fantastic as it is bizarre, full of colorful characters who should each get their own show. With the help of his two husbands and a handful of ex-cheaters and outcasts living on his property, Joe Exotic runs a roadside attraction filled with legions of big cats caught. However, when his home-made port is threatened by animal activist and former breeder Carole Baskin, owner / operator of an animal shelter called Big Cat Rescue, Joe takes steps to protect his way of life by all possible means.
The program takes the audience to explore the big cat community and residents. And while everyone is an avowed animal lover who only wants to get right with the creatures he holds, there are no innocents here. Each player has his own claws and is ready to pounce on the slightest perceived danger. From Joe’s contemporaries like Doc Antle, who runs a menagerie of women that goes with his collection of animals, to Baskin, who lives under a shadow of mistrust due to the mysterious circumstances in which her first husband disappeared. The heart of this stormy tale, however, is Joe, whose festering hostility to Baskin reaches a scary climax when he hires thugs to murder her.
These outsiders and the communities they create form the strange heart of Cat Hair Tiger King, a strange story that can easily be devoured in a single session – exactly what we all need right now. As we’ve all heard in the past few weeks, the truth is stranger than fiction. With more twists, turns, and eccentrics than in a Wes Anderson movie, Tiger’s strange true story makes for an entertaining and fleeting attack.
Joe, Carole and Doc are big cat gurus whose passion for exotic animals and charismatic nature has inspired people to follow them, marry them, and dedicate their lives to spreading their wild gospel of cats. But in the end, the only victims are not the talking heads with a love for carnivorous kittens, but the imprisoned animals that are forced to live in captivity for a half-life.