Who would have thought that amid a pandemic, the binding agent of America would be a documentary starring a self-proclaimed “gay, gun-toting, cowboy” from Oklahoma?
The Netflix series may have officially debunked the phrase ‘stranger things have happened’ while confirming ‘truth is stranger than fiction.’ It does not get any stranger than the eight-episode mini-series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.
Arguably no cast of characters is more offbeat than those who inhabit the subculture of big cat ownership. The most eccentric and misguided of them all is Joseph Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage or as he’s more widely known, Joe Exotic.
Surrounding characters include conmen, cult leaders, ex-convicts, drug addicts, and hitmen. Please note that the term ‘documentary’ is used loosely for this series. These are real people (believe it or not) and we do witness real events. However, the portrayal is clearly bent towards sensationalism, something that not even the zoo/animal sanctuary owners were not aware of until filming concluded.
What’s it about?
The show primarily follows the shenanigans of roadside zoo owner Joe Exotic from his property in Wynnewood, Oklahoma to his prison cell (not much of a spoiler considering Exotic narrates from behind bars in the first episode). The land he purchased was formerly a horse farm. Exotic acquired the property in the 90s with money received related to his brother’s death, caused by complications after he had been in a car accident.
The G.W. Zoo was named in his honor. Joe used the land to house lions, tigers, and other animals. It’s been said that the horses that remained on the farm when it was purchased were fed to the big cats. Their choice of food eventually devolved to meat products rejected by Walmart.
The story gradually becomes less about what happens at the G.W. Zoo; horrific accidents, music videos, a reality show, and even a political campaign, to a murder scheme. Not to mention Joe’s husbands, yes plural, two were featured in the show but he is rumored to have been wed five times, legally or otherwise. More on that later. What we see most is the murder-for-hire plot Joe incited against his rival Carole Baskin.
Who is Carole Baskin?
The current meme queen. Hers is the face that is saturating the Internet. The blonde hair and animal print clothing. Baskin, 58, married to Howard Baskin, her second husband after her first husband “Don” Lewis disappeared, more on that and how they met later. She is an animal rights activist and owner of Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary near Tampa, Florida.
Her thoughts on Tiger King:
“When the directors…came to us five years ago they said they wanted to make the big cat version of ‘Blackfish‘ (the documentary that revealed abuse at SeaWorld) that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive.” (Bigcatresue.org)
Big Cat Blackfish is not what happened. What Netflix gave us during our #stayhomesavelives sentencing was drama to an absurd degree. Baskin went after Exotic for animal abuse and Exotic went after Baskin because he was convinced she killed her first husband Don Lewis and fed him to the tigers. Lewis was declared legally dead after his 5-year-disappearance which left Carole with his fortune. She met Lewis in her late teens while walking alone at night. Lewis circled the block in his car until she got in. The truth is stranger than fiction. She made it her mission to put Joe Exotic out of business and so, Joe thought it best if she were dead.
“I’m involved in a federal murder-for-hire plot. Who’ da thought? Just because I stopped by to feed a bear one day.”-Reinke, former zoo Manager
Bankruptcy due to legal battles with Baskin led Exotic to seek the help of Jeff Lowe. His last name sums up his standard of integrity. The conman fooled Exotic while exploiting tiger cubs himself. Meanwhile, one of Joe’s husbands, Travis Maldonado, suffered a horrific accident witnessed by the manager of his running for Governor of Oklahoma campaign. John Finlay, 59, now ex-husband of Exotic, left the three-way marriage for a woman. Low-life Lowe found Allen Glover, handyman and hitman, willing to eliminate Baskin. Glover lied, took the money and ran.
How exactly did Joe end up in a cage serving twenty-two years? Was it his second or third husband-it’s hard to keep track-who was convicted of murder? Finlay and Maldonado were both young when they married Exotic and both admitted they were heterosexual on camera. What about “Doc” Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, home of the largest liger and apparent feline-themed sex-cult? That’s a series in and of itself.
Tiger King now streaming on Netflix.
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Best Shay Mitchell Movies and TV Shows to Watch
Shay Mitchell has amassed quite a following on social media with her hilarious and relatable TikTok videos, but on-screen is where she delivers the real gold and pours herself into the most challenging roles.
Here are the best movies and TV shows starring Shay Mitchell to add to your must-watch list:
Pretty Little Liars – Freeform
Shay became a household name after bringing Emily Fields to life in the ABC Family/Freeform mystery drama. Emily and her best friends attempted to solve the mystery surrounding their best friend’s disappearance while fielding text messages from a digital stalker at every turn. Shay’s portrayal was also pivotal as it brought to life one of the best LGBTQ characters for the network!
Dollface – Hulu
After being dumped, Jules (Kat Dennings) rekindles her female friendship with Madison (Brenda Song) and the eccentric Stella (Shay) and re-enters the world where your girlfriends trump romantic relationships. Each character brings a certain personality to the series, but Stella is definitely the most vibrant and worldly.
You – Netflix
In its first season of the psychological thriller, Shay tackled the role of Peach Salinger, the best friend of Joe’s (Penn Badgley) first obsession Beck (Elizabeth Lail). And you know that any friend of Beck’s is an enemy of Joe’s.
The Possession of Hannah Grace – Sony Pictures
Shay flexed her horror muscle as cop-turned-morgue worker Megan Reed, who accepts a delivery of a disfigured cadaver during the graveyard shift and is plagued with horrifying visions as she’s possessed by a demonic spirit.
The film revolves around several different mother’s day events, including one with Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a single mom that finds out her ex-husband is marrying a younger woman, Tina, played by Shay.
7 Hottest Moments Between Thony and Arman on ‘The Cleaning Lady’
Arman and Thony have an intense and electric bond on The Cleaning Lady.
While they let the passion get to them on a few occasions, they’ve mostly kept things PG. So, how can there be so many “hot moments” between them, you ask. Well, good question!
When it comes to these two, it’s not only about the physical connection but the emotional as well. It’s about every longing gaze, stolen glance, and forbidden touch. It’s about all the times Arman helps Thony at his own discretion, and in turn, it’s the loyalty and support she extends to him.
Here are the hottest and steamiest moments between Arman (Adan Canto) and Thony (Elodie Yung) on The Cleaning Lady Season 1!
Not only does Arman spare Thony’s life, but he “hires her” as the cleaning lady in order to justify keeping her alive. He sees something in her that not only piques his interest but also reminds him of himself. When Thony stands up to him at the airport hangar for the first time, she’s setting the scene for their season-long tug-and-pull dynamic. Arman acknowledges that she’s a woman that “commands respect” while noting that he’s “offering that to her.” He also reminds her that as immigrants, they need each other, and she needs him as he can play a huge role in keeping her son alive. It’s a key scene in order to establish the ground rules between these two power players — even if they are told at every turn that they have no power.
When Arman risks his own life to save Thony’s after he realizes he’s basically walked her into a trap, it’s one of the first moments where he admits, subconsciously, that he cares for her. After the explosion, she pays him back for saving her life by saving his, which is when she reveals that there’s much more to her than meets the eye. Arman is impressed with how well she works under pressure, but Thony once again reminds him that it’s a give and take relationship. “You want me to work for you, protect me. Give me the respect I deserve. And if anything happens to me, swear my son will be protected.” He gave her his word… and he never lied.
With Luca dying in her arms, Thony realizes she’s out of options and seeks out Arman and the club, who rushes to her aid and brings her to a private doctor that’s paid off by Hayak. Arman doesn’t just drop Thony off — he carries Luca inside, takes her burden, and sticks around to make sure that she’s okay. While he’s offering a shoulder to cry on, he realizes that he trusts her enough to open up about his past, which reveals that he understands Thony’s predicament all too well as he’s done the unthinkable to protect his family, too. The moment humanizes him in Thony’s eyes and the eyes of the audience. And when he sees that she looks at him with judgment for the career that he chose, it almost seems like he wants to become a better man for her.
When Arman notices that Thony is upset about Luca’s procedure, he comforts her. He allows her to have a full-on breakdown (one of Thony’s only moments of weakness in the series) and cradles her in his arms. And all those heightened emotions lead to a very unexpected yet passionate kiss. I mean… really passionate. You cannot fake that kind of chemistry! Thony stops things before they escalate to the point of no return, but it’s enough to satiate all the fans that have been long shipping the couple.
When Thony informs Arman that she can’t afford the surgery and the liver donor, Arman offers to pay for the surgery, assuring her that he couldn’t have secured a huge deal with Thony’s intel from the FBI. “I’m in too deep now,” he says with an adorable smile, which definitely implies that he’s not just doing this for Luca. However, when Thony mentions that she’ll have to “talk to her husband” who has arrived in the U.S., Arman’s whole demeanor changes. The guy has absolutely no poker face, but it’s because he simply can’t hide himself or his emotions in front of the woman he loves. And while the moment isn’t exactly “hot,” it does reveal just how bad Arman has it for Thony. Plus, he’s still willing to pay for the surgery even with Thony’s husband in the picture, which is admirable.
The kiss right before Luca’s surgery was perfection. Unlike their first make-out session, this kiss was rooted in trust, honesty, and longing. Arman risked everything to get Thony and Luca across the border in a private jet because he cares about her so much and knows he might not have her around for much longer. The kiss is prefaced by a sweet talk where Thony reveals so much happened in Vegas that she’d like to forget, which prompts Arman to suggest, “hopefully, not everything.” “Not everything,” Thony admits.
Arman and Thony are like the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. In one fell swoop, they worked together to take down Hayak and stole the $6 million from the gun sale after agreeing to help the FBI make the arrests. The action-packed episode didn’t allow for any real romantic moments, but the very fact that they trust each other enough to get into bed with the FBI while pulling one over on FBI at the same speak volumes.
Also, the longing gaze and hang caressing while Thony visits Arman in jail is enough to make fans go crazy waiting for more #Armony (should we make that a ship name?).
Come on, FOX. Give us a second season!
I’m sure there are plenty of other moments I could’ve mentioned — which ones would you add to the list? Weigh in in the comments below!
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