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.
Related: Tiger King: Did Carole Baskin Kill Her Husband Don Lewis or Did Something Else Happen?
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.
What to Watch
Summer 2023 TV Lineup Schedule – Time to Heat Up the Summer
It’s time to heat up the summer with plenty of new and returning TV shows.
The summer months are, obviously, best spent outside enjoying the warm weather, unlimited BBQs, and pools and beaches, but when you’re ready for a little getaway, TV shows and characters are always around to keep you entertained.
With the WGA strike possibly continuing into the fall, summer television might be the last time we get any new seasons for the next few months, so embrace it.
As always, the slower-paced summer months are also the best time to catch up on any shows that you’ve been wanting to watch!
Here’s what’s on tap for summer 2023—let us know what you plan to watch in the comments!
30 for 30: The American Gladiators Documentary (May 30, ESPN)
The Ride (May 30, Prime Video)
Drag Me to Dinner (May 31, Hulu)
Nancy Drew, season 4 (May 31, The CW)
Manifest – season 4 part 2 (Netflix, June 2)
The Idol (HBO, June 4)
The Lazarus Project (June 4, TNT)
Cruel Summer, season 2 (Freeform, June 5)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, season 16 (FX, June 7)
The Real Housewives of Orange County, season 17 (June 7, Bravo)
Alone, season 10 (History Channel, June 8)
Based on a True Story (Peacock, June 8)
Never Have I Ever, season 4 (Netflix, June 8)
The Crowded Room (Apple TV+, June 9)
The Full Monty (FX and Hulu, June 14)
The Big D (June 14, USA)
Temptation Island, season 5 (June 14, USA)
The Wonder Years, season 2 (June 14, ABC)
Project Runway, season 20 (June 15, Bravo)
Outlander, season 7 (June 16, Starz)
The Walking Dead: Dead City (June 18, AMC)
The Righteous Gemstones, season 3 (HBO, June 18)
Secret Invasion (Disney+, June 21)
The Bear, season 2 (FX, June 22)
I’m a Virgo (Prime Video, June 23)
2023 BET Awards (June 25, BET)
The Bachelorette, season 20 (June 26, ABC)
Grown-ish, season 6 (June 28, Freeform)
Hijack (Apple TV+, June 28)
The Witcher, season 3, part 1 (Netflix, June 29)
Warrior, season 3 (June 29, Max)
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, season 4 (June 30, Prime Video)
And Just Like That …, season 2 (HBO Max, June TBD)
Black Mirror, season 6 (Netflix, June TBD)
The Horror of Delores Roach (July 7, Prime Video)
The Prank Panel (July 9, ABC)
The Afterparty, season 2 (Apple TV+, July 12)
Full Circle (Max, July 13)
Foundation, season 2 (Apple TV+, July 14)
The Summer I Turned Pretty, season 2 (July 14, Prime Video)
The Real Housewives of New York City, season 14 (Bravo, July 16)
Justified: City Primeval (FX, July 18)
Minx, season 2 (Starz, July 21)
Praise Petey (Freeform, July 21)
The Witcher, season 3, part 2 (Netflix, July 27)
Good Omens, season 2 (July 28, Prime Video)
Heels, season 2 (July 28, Starz)
Survival of the Thickest (July TBD, Netflix)
Reservation Dogs, season 3 (FX on Hulu, August 2)
Heartstopper, season 2 (Netflix, August 3)
Only Murders in the Building (Hulu, August 8)
Painkiller (Netflix, August 10)
The Upshaws, season 4 (August 17, Netflix)
Archer season 14 (August 30, FXX)
Ahsoka (Disney+, August TBA)
As for what we can look forward to in the fall and beyond, well, Lupin Season 3 is scheduled for October 3 on Netflix. Other shows in the works without premiere dates include Bridgerton Season 3 and The Crown Season 6 on Netflix, Ironheart and Loki on Disney+ and Gen V on Prime Video!
What to Watch
Memorial Day Weekend: 5 Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch
Break out the red, white, and blue because it’s Memorial Day weekend.
The holiday, honoring and remembering fallen military personnel, is typically characterized by a three-day weekend consisting of parades and outdoor grilling.
But if you’re planning to kickstart summer indoors, there are plenty of great shows and movies to binge-watch with friends, family, or even solo!
You can opt for some Memorial Day-themed movies, or you use this time to finally get around to that “one show” you’ve been meaning to watch! Or even use this time wisely to catch up on shows that will be dropping new seasons in the next few weeks/months.
If you’re looking around for new shows to feed your eyeballs, look no further than this list of must-watch during Memorial Day weekend shows that are all streaming RIGHT NOW!
Manifest – Netflix
The last 10 episodes of the groundbreaking plane drama are preparing for landing on June 2, which. means that this is the perfect weekend to catch up on all this Manifest. Where did the passengers of Flight 828 go when they disappeared for 5 years?
Sweet Magnolias – Netflix
It’s almost time to return to Serenity to catch up with your three best gal pals, Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen. The beloved Netflix drama just announced a summer premiere, so this is your time to binge all the episodes you haven’t seen yet!
How I Met Your Father – Hulu
HIMYF, the Hilary Duff-led HIMYM spinoff, is one of the biggest sitcoms on TV right now. Along with its promising cast, it delivers a fast-paced yet quirky and hilarious storyline that makes it a breeze to watch during a long weekend.
Cruel Summer – Freeform
Love a good mystery? So do we. And Cruel Summer, which was a breakout hit in 2021 when it dropped its first season, kept audiences on their toes right down to the last minute of the season. The first season of the drama—spanning three different summers—focused on Kate Wallis, a popular teen who goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, a dorky outlier who is accused of knowing who abducted Kate and keeping it a secret. Which one of them do we believe? Binge all seven episodes and prepare for the arrival of season 2 in June!
The Bear – Hulu
There may be a lot happening in Jeremy Allen White’s personal life right now, but that shouldn’t deter you from enjoying Hulu’s The Bear, where he plays a young chef from the fine dining world who comes to run his family’s sandwich shop following a death in the family. There’s a lot to dig into with this one, including White’s poignant performance and an organic chemistry with the cast.
YOU Review – Portrait of the Artist (402)
And the murder mystery continues on YOU Season 4 Episode 2.
Joe, er, Jonathan, has been going above and beyond to figure out which of the members of the elitist circle could be the murderer that’s trying to frame him, but it looks like he’s being played at his own game.
Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to see Joe on the other side of things for once—running around terrified like a chicken without a head and trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle.
He’s not in a city that’s familiar to him, and he’s definitely not in his element. And while he fell into a friends circle of some of the most insane and damaged people on earth, his charm isn’t working on them or in his favor in the same way that it has countless times before.
And what’s making this all the more disturbing is that there’s someone out there that’s actually more deranged than Joe. Joe pales in comparison to the person that’s stabbing people left and right and keeping body parts as tokens of some sort, likely to frame Joe in the long run by planting those body pieces on his belongings or in his apartment.
The person is hiding in plain sight and utilizing all common and familiar murder mystery tropes, including that the second victim is always the first suspect.
The crimes are gruesome and terrible, but it’s also hard to feel bad for any of the victims as the whole bunch—maybe aside from Rhys—is genuinely unlikable. Mostly everyone in the wealthy group has no redeeming qualities, and most of them don’t even seem too phased by the deaths in their inner circle because the truth is that none of these shallow people actually like or care about each other.
YOU does a great job at making us question Joe’s sanity and then immediately introducing people who are even worse than him, proving that the world seems to be full of unhinged people everywhere you go.
Joe doesn’t have much to go on at the end of episode 2 as every single person he’s come across could potentially be the killer. He has, however, seemingly figured out some kind of connection between Malcolm and Simon’s deaths, though it’s unclear if that has any bearing on their deaths.
Blackmail seems to be a common thread, with Malcolm likely blackmailing Adam, who fancies himself a golden shower from the bus boys at his establishment, while planning to take down Simon, a fraud who stole artists’ work to pass off as his own. Joe learned the truth about Simon from his assistant, who crashed the opening and threw red paint at him (he had it coming). She also confirmed that Malcolm was trying to expose him, and while she definitely has the motive, I don’t think she would stoop that low. She wanted to make a statement—she didn’t want to be the statement.
At this point, the only person who stands to gain anything from the destruction of both men is Kate as she was in a relationship with Malcolm and a gallery partner with Simon, whose secrets threatened her career. But I’m not convinced that she’s responsible. She genuinely seems like one of the only good and level-headed people in the group, not to mention she’s also concerned about Malcolm’s disappearance meaning she likely has no idea he’s dead.
It could’ve been Adam to keep his sexual kink a secret, but I don’t think he’d have it in him.
The timing of Roald’s arrival was suspect, as was his immediate distaste for Jonathan, so I’ll keep him on the list. Joe may be the new guy, but he shows up right before the second murder.
If I truly had to put my money on someone, my prime suspect is still Rhys. There’s just something off about him, plus, he carries himself as if he’s above them all, so it would make sense if he was trying to make them pay for their sins or something. He’s also very observant, thus, he’d be knowledgeable about all of their deepest and darkest secrets, which could be used against them. It would also make sense that he used his status and smarts to dig up dirt about Joe.
The killer seems to be having an absolute blast toying with Joe, even beating him at his own game by figuring out his identity.
It sent a chill down Joe’s spine—and I didn’t think it was possible to freak Joe out. In an attempt to stay ahead of the killer, Joe is somehow trying to play catch up.
What if it’s Marienne? What if she’s turning the tables on him? It seems like the killer is using Joe’s psychological warfare against him, which means that they have a lot in common. It has to be someone that Joe has connected with on a personal level already, so aside from Rhys and Kate, that leaves Nadia rounding out the top three suspects. She’s been helping him figure out the murder mystery genre, which might be a clue as to her involvement. Plus, we find out that she had some kind of personal relationship with Malcolm, though it’s unclear if it was sexual.
I really hope that she’s just a genuine person helping her teacher, but at this point, we can’t rule anything out.
And finally, there’s the possibility of Adam and Phoebe’s security guard, Vic, who is silent but deadly. He sees everything that’s happening (he ticks off the observant box for sure) but doesn’t say anything, though we know he’s not above blackmail because when he catches Joe snooping around, he takes a lump sum of money to remain quiet.
What did you think of the episode? Who do you think the killer is?
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