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Tiger King Review: An Offbeat Series About Big Cats, Big Lies, and Big Murder

Netflix: Tiger King

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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.

Tiger King Netflix Dethroned review

Netflix: Tiger King

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)

QUIZ: Which ‘Tiger King’ Character Are You Most Like?

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.

Tiger King Netflix Dethroned review

Tiger King: Dethroned/ Netflix

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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Netflix

17 Forgotten LGBTQ+ TV Characters

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No matter who you are and who you love,  you certainly know the iconic LGBTQ+ TV characters like Grey’s Anatomy’s Callie and Arizona or Schitt’s Creek’s David and Patrick.

But since Pride month is finally here, we figured why not list off some of the lesser-known LGBTQ+ characters that are equally as powerful.

And maybe you’ll find some new queer TV shows to watch along the way. 

1. Fran- Shrill

Lolly Adefope as Fran on Shrill. (Credit: Shondaland)

Simply put, Fran’s a Sagittarius queen on Shrill. Although not always that way, Fran successfully depicts the internal challenges of coming out in an immigrant family. Raised in a traditional Nigerian family, she’s had to suppress herself during her early years, but once she felt ready to come out, her entire personality blossomed into the Fran we know and love.

2. Levi Schmitt- Grey’s Anatomy

Jake Borelli as Levi Schmitt on Grey’s Anatomy. (ABC/Richard Cartwright)

When Callie and Arizona left the show, there was a gay-ping hole that needed to be filled. Thus, Levi Schmitt was born. His storyline might not be as prominent as his predecessors, but his characterization has since grown, and he’s made his own place in the Grey’s Anatomy family.

3.  Edie Palmer- Almost Family

Megalyn Echikunwoke as Edie Palmer on Almost Family (Credit: Fox)

Sadly, Almost Family was cut short. But Edie Palmer’s character showed the struggles of coming out later in life in the midst of a marriage with a man. We’re sad we didn’t get to see the evolvement of her story, but if you haven’t seen the first season, make sure to add it to your list.

4. Gael Martinez- Good Trouble

Gael Martinez - Goop

Tommy Martinez as Gael Martinez on Good Trouble (Credit: Freeform)

It’s a rarity for a show to portray a bisexual man, but it’s so important. Gael on Good Trouble is suave, sexy, and totally comfortable in his sexuality. Coming from a traditional Latino family didn’t make his coming out particularly easy, but with the support of his sister and friends, he’s able to find his way.

5. Maggie Amato- Younger

Debi Mazar as Maggie Amato on younger (Credit: TV Land)

Maggie on Younger is the OWL (old wise lesbian) that every queer woman aspires to be. An artist and a true OG of Brooklyn before it was totally gentrified, she’s not tied down to anyone and prefers to play the dating field of NYC. Because who wouldn’t when they’re surrounded by the largest pool of datable women?

6. Titus Andromedon- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Titus Burgess as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (Credit: Netflix)

The diva that steals the show, Titus on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the stereotypical flamboyant gay man. Somehow managing to survive in NYC as an aspiring Broadway performer. He may not give off the “straight” vibe Broadway wants from him, but his wardrobe is certainly better.

7. Abbi Abrams- Broad City

Abbi Jacobson as Abbi Abrams on Broad City. (Credit: Comedy Central)

In Broad City, the show explores the fluidity of sexuality effortlessly without putting a huge emphasis on labels. Both leads date men and women, but Abbi’s understated coming-out moment mirrors the actress’s own personal experience.

8. Darryl Whitefeather- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Pete Gardner as Darryl Whitefeather on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. (Credit: The CW)

In this fun and musically driven show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does an outstanding job including multiple queer characters into its small cast. Darryl Whitefeather is an older man, who discovers he’s bisexual early on in the first season after he divorces his wife and finds he has feelings for White Josh.

9. Rhonda Johnson- Blackish

Raven Simoné (left) as Rhonda Johnson on Blackish. (Credit: ABC)

Rhonda’s not a series regular, but she does show up on the occasional episode of Blackish. She’s able to keep her sexuality a secret from her family for so long, that Dre, her brother, doesn’t totally believe she’s gay. Until he realizes that her–roommate– is actually her partner.

10. Victor Salazaar- Love, Victor

Michael Cimino as Victor Salazaar on Love, Victor. (Credit: Hulu)

Love, Victor is a coming-of-age show set in the same universe as the movie Love, Simon. This time centering around, Victor, a Latino boy whose traditional parents aren’t as accepting of homosexuality. With its Season 2 coming out in a few days, the emphasis will on the family dynamic after Victor comes out.

11. Dani Clayton- The Haunting of Bly Manor

Victoria Pedretti as Dani Clayton in the Haunting of Bly Manor (Credit: Netflix)

In a beautifully written show about love and loss, set against the backdrop of a mild thriller, The Haunting of Bly Manor stories Dani as she grapples with her sexuality after an incident that leaves her haunted by her past.

12. Lionel Higgins- Dear White People

Tyler James Williams as Lionel Higgins on Dear White People (Credit: Netflix)

Lionel from Dear White People is an important representation for Black gay men. Homophobia’s not something he often faces, instead his own flaws inhibit his dating life. However, he doesn’t need a relationship to distract from his three-dimensional characterization.

13. Frankie Coyne- Workin’ Moms

Juno Rinaldi as Frankie Coyne on Workin’ Moms (Credit: CBC)

Workin’ Moms is a comedy that depicts the realities of motherhood. One of the series regulars, Frankie, struggles with postpartum depression, ultimately leading to a split with her wife. She navigates singledom, dating women here and there, while also trying to build her real estate career.

14. Toni Shalifoe- The Wilds

Erana James as Toni Shalifoe on Amazon Prime’s The Wild (Credit/Amazon)

When The Wild’s dropped on Amazon Prime, the characters were easily lovable. Especially Toni, with her spitfire and confident personality she won over many gay hearts. She’s out and proud, and doesn’t let Shelby’s homophobic tendencies take her down.

15. Mae- Feel Good

Mae Martin as Mae on Feel Good. (Credit: Netflix)

In this comedic series that draws on the comedian Mae Martin’s real life, Mae is a drug addict who is having a hard time with sobriety as she’s too focused on her new relationship with her closeted girlfriend.

16. Elena- One Day at a Time

Isabella Gomez as Elena Alvarez on One Day at a Time. (Credit: Netflix)

Elena’s the social justice warrior of the family in One Day at a Time, and figures out she likes girls early on. She comes out to her family and the different generations seem to handle it differently, but it doesn’t stop her from being herself.

17. Eric Effiong- Sex Education

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong on Sex Education. (Credit: Netflix)

With his impeccable fashion that is sometimes gender-bending, Eric on Sex Education shows that you can be gay and actively religious. And despite the teasing he endures at school, he doesn’t stop being proud of his identity because he’s already been in the closet and it was dark and lonely.

Please comment below with any characters that you think should be on this list!


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Coffee Table News

Sara Ramirez Joins the ‘Sex and the City’ Reboot as Non-Binary Character

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Sara Ramirez Joins the 'Sex and the City' Reboot as Non-Binary Character

HBO Max’s Sex and the City reboot has officially snagged Grey’s Anatomy alumni Sara Ramirez as a new cast addition.

The star is replacing Kim Cattrall’s iconic character, Samantha.

Ramirez, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, will portray Che Diaz, a queer, nonbinary standup comedian. Che is the host of a widely popular podcast that will regularly feature Carrie.

The 10-episode series titled And Just Like That… will follow the original cast, including Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), during a new chapter in their lives. It will examine how their friendship has shifted and evolved since their early 30s.

The decision to include a nonbinary character is a progressive move for the series and was inspired by Cattrall’s refusal to join the reboot. The actress called for the show to provide greater inclusivity and suggested that her character be replaced by “another actress–possibly a woman of color.” Executive director Michael Patrick King certainly delivered hoping to make some necessary amends to former episodes. 

In the original Sex and the City, Carrie made some questionable and problematic comments about the LGBTQ+ community. Notably, the line: “I’m not even sure bisexuality even exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to Gaytown.”

Hopefully, Carrie takes this opportunity to learn from her past homophobic beliefs and we see a shift in her perspectives.

It’s exciting to see an aged classic rewrite its troubled past and take ownership of its outdated content. Now, we can properly look forward to a trendier and more millennial-esque show.

What do you think of the casting addition?


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Cruel Summer

Cruel Summer Review – First Day of School (1×08)

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Cruel Summer Review Proof Season 1 Episode 8

The first day of school was quite eventful as it gave us a glimpse into the day Kate Wallis went missing, tackled Jamie’s guilt, and Ben’s accident.

Much like all the other episodes, Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 8 was broken up into three timelines — 1994, 1995, and 1996 — in order to emphasize how different the first day of school was with each passing year.

In 1993, Jeanette, Mallory, and Vincent were best friends who just wrapped up their list, which as many fans believed, did play a crucial role in the overall mystery.

The final item on the list included breaking into the AV Club room to play their prank video, which included footage of Martin Harris getting sprayed down with a sprinkler as he left his house that morning. 

However, no one besides Mallory really seemed into completing the final item and holding onto the past.

Vincent was more preoccupied with his feelings for Ben, so he left his post to chat him up about losing their moms. 

Meanwhile, Jeanette was tired of being pushed around by Mallory and bullied into doing things that she didn’t want to do. 

When she saw Mrs. Wallis walking towards Mr. Harris’s office, she also left her post and eavesdropped on their conversation detailing Kate’s disappearance.

Without her lookouts, Mallory was a sitting duck when Martin walked into the AV club.

While the prank seemed harmless, he freaked out over the footage and gave Mallory detention. 

As he played back the tape several times, it became clear why he was so frazzled over something so trivial.

The VHS seemed to show Kate standing in his window as he left for work, which makes it the only piece of evidence connecting him to her disappearance. And that’s not good considering he just told Kate’s mother he had no idea where she was. 

Naturally, he stomped on the VHS to destroy it, but I wonder if Mallory held onto another copy. Or better yet, did she notice Kate when she filmed/ played it back?

Martin was very clearly in the circle of trust with the Wallis family, so he was able to control the narrative to some degree.

Joy made his office her first stop when Kate went off the radar and he lied straight to her face.

He even gaslighted her by encouraging her not to go to the police because they might view it as negligence.

Seriously, that should’ve made Joy rethink the whole situation, but as I said, she trusted him and thought he was giving her sound advice.

At this point, it seems as though Kate is still hiding out at his home willingly, but it’s frustrating that we’ve yet to see what transpired between them once she entered his home. 

Based on the previous episodes and how Martin didn’t have anything prepared for her downstairs including food or clothing, I don’t necessarily think he planned to keep her a prisoner. My guess is that once the cops were involved and the whole town was searching for Kate, he figured that things had gotten out of hand and he needed to keep her locked away so that she wouldn’t incriminate him.

Jeanette overheard this whole conversation and used it to get in with Jamie, who thought Kate was mad at him about the drinking from the night prior. 

Throughout the whole season, it seemed as though Jeanette “stole” Kate’s life, but from the looks of it, she simply fell into a more popular role in school following her glow-up, which started when she first got her braces off. 

Jamie was nice to her even before she changed her whole appearance. He was one of the few who noticed she got her braces off and commented on her pretty smile. 

Jeanette didn’t have to become a completely different person to get on his radar. And though she wanted that popular lifestyle, the guy, and the friends, it was a more natural transition for her than I previously thought. 

As was her falling out with Mallory. 

To be quite honest, Mallory wasn’t a good friend. She was pushy, judgemental, and controlling. She kept trying to manipulate Jeanette, and when she began blooming in her own way, she tried to push her back down a notch. 

It was a clear sign of someone who is jealous and feels their friend slipping away so they do everything to ensure that things don’t change. 

Eventually, Jeanette got sick of it and called her out, which led to their big public fight and the end of their friendship. 

Mallory is a tough character to crack. I haven’t gotten good vibes from her from the beginning, but I think it’s too obvious if she were to be involved or responsible for what happened to Kate. 

And though she clearly hates Jeanette, the hate was fueled by pain and hurt, so I doubt that she’d do anything to punish her or get revenge. 

Under the surface, there’s still some love there. 

In the present day, when Jeanette went by her house to get the snow globe, Mallory appeared indifferent, but in reality, she knew exactly where the snowglobe was, which meant that she still cared about Jeanette and their friendship on some level. 

But now there’s the mystery of the snowglobe. What does it symbolize? Why is it important?

And why did Jeanette think of it when she heard Jamie’s sinister recording of a girl breathing while a movie with the words “till death do us part” played in the background?

Did she recognize the movie? Did she think it was Mallory calling Jamie? What happened on Christmas Eve?!

Initially, I thought the recording might have indicated that Mallory was somehow involved, but Jeanette was more concerned about getting the snowglobe and didn’t seem too concerned about Mallory.

The episode also painted a full picture of how Kate’s disappearance ruined several lives. 

Jamie spiraled and began drinking to cope with his grief. Up until now, Jamie had come off as a selfish jerk, but underneath that facade, he’s just a guy whose world came crashing down after they found Kate. 

He didn’t know who to believe or who to stand by. In trying to defend Kate’s honor, he assaulted Jeanette and was then overcome with guilt after his actions led others to blame and torment her publicly. 

All of that pent-up guilt and rage led to Jamie’s drinking, which then led to an accident that destroyed Ben’s football career. 

In one of the earlier episodes, Ben tells the lawyers that he blames Jeanette for destroying his life. Aside from the obvious Kate and Jeanette drama, it’s one of the storylines that I’ve been most curious about. 

Ben got into Jamie’s car, who was under the influence. He sped off to Jeanette’s house to apologize to her and T-boned another car. He was fine, but Ben wasn’t so lucky and badly injured his shoulder.

Ben has every right to feel angry and resent what happened, but blaming Jeanette for what happened is unfair. 

Jeanette didn’t tell Jamie to drink, nor did she tell him to drive drunk. Those were his decisions.

Jeanette has been nothing but good to Ben and even kept his romance with Vince a secret since they weren’t ready to come out publicly. 

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Jeanette has been painted as a villain mostly through no wrongdoing of her own. 

Jamie’s actions forced everyone to doubt her story. Kate’s tell-all put her in the spotlight as the bad guy without ever giving her a chance to refute the claims. And Ben blamed her for an injury that she didn’t have anything to do with. 

Now, I’m not saying Kate is to blame in any of this because she’s not; she’s also a victim who was groomed by Martin and thought he was a good guy that she could trust and confide in.

However, since she is the kidnapping victim, she’s avoided the scrutiny while Jeanette has bared all of it. 

That also doesn’t seem fair. 

The fact that Vince confronted Jamie about leaving Jeanette alone also indirectly led to the accident, so one could argue that it was a series of events that led to Ben’s injury, and everyone played a part. 

Even Jamie didn’t seem to think Jeanette was guilty when he apologized to her, which might mean that she’ll begin to have more people in her corner now. 

Of course, we still haven’t seen the moment in which Kate alleges that Jeanette saw her. 

Could it be the moment where they played a prank on Mr. Harris and she was standing in the window? Because if so, technically, Mallory and Vince should’ve seen her then too. 

Also, is it possible that Kate saw Mallory recording on Jeanette’s bike and assumed that Jeanette saw her being held captive?

And does this explain why present-day Mallory is so obsessed with being Kate’s friend? Is it stemming from some sort of misplaced guilt?

There’s also something off about Joy’s reaction to seeing Jeanette in the hallway back in 1993. Jeanette was all too eager to help the Wallis family, but Joy brushed her off and was outright rude to her. 

Why does she hate the Turner family so much? Is it because she wasn’t able to snag Greg?

There have been some theories that Greg may also be Kate’s father, which would make this that much messier. 

All I know is that there has to be more to Joy’s hatred of the Turner family. I don’t think she’d be that vile to the children simply because she didn’t like Cindy. 

Speaking of Cindy, we finally saw her reconnect with Jeanette in the present day, but her approach was pretty terrible. Jeanette’s obviously been through hell and back and finally has compelling evidence that casts doubt on Kate’s credibility, but her mother insisted that she drop the lawsuit because it’s a losing game for her. 

Is she trying to protect her daughter from more pain or does she continue to think her daughter is guilty?

Cindy seemingly left the house the moment she learned that Jeanette was lying about having the key, which led to the end of her marriage with Greg. 

She pursued her career, which, on one hand, is deserved, but on the other, does seem like an attempt to run away from the issues and abandon the family. 

The negative press was too much for her, but it was also when her daughter needed her most.

Greg might not be perfect, but he stuck around and vouched for Jeanette at every turn. 

We also find out that he made Jeanette come clean to the police about having Harris’s key and being in his home once before, which means Jeanette’s only hiding the fact that she went back there multiple times. 

And considering the allegations against her, I’m not surprised she kept that a secret. 

No one would even hear anything else if they knew she frequented his home.

Sadly, there was no movement on the Annabelle front, and while I’ve read some pretty out-there theories, I’m going to refrain from theorizing because I have a feeling that what the writers come up with will blow me out of the water. 

I’m hoping we get more scenes from Martin’s perspective as I like knowing what was going through his mind throughout all of this. 

I also want to see the alleged moment Kate thought she saw Jeanette while in captivity. 

What did you think of the episode? Do you think it’s fair that Ben blames Jeanette? Do you see Jamie in a new light?

What’s with the snowglobe? Is there something off about Joy? Who is Annabelle?

Let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments!


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