I Saw Tigers: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness: Reviewed

Once in a while something comes along so bizarre you stop what you’re doing and find yourself engrossed in a whirlwind of insane entertainment. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness gives new meaning to the term Stranger Than Fiction. 

At the center of the series is Joe Exotic, a tiger breeding, country music singing, fringe loving man who has become a cultural icon overnight. Exotic has a personality that was made for TV. Hell, he had his own internet TV show - Joe Exotic TV! The series in a nutshell follows Joe on his bizarre exploits at his zoo. Much of this footage was filmed by Joe himself. He constantly had a crew film him and the day to day happenings at his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. 

The GW Zoo had over 50 species of animals, specializing in big cats. Some 277 to be exact. Remember that scene in Joe Dirt where Joe worked at the alligator farm. It’s not much different. The only difference is Joe Exotic is a real person, and this really happened. Imagine if an episode of Jerry Springer was filmed at a zoo, and toss in a mauling, some polygamy, and a handful of some of the most lit country music videos ever made, then you would have Tiger King. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

The murder for hire story line involves Exotic’s arch nemesis Carole Baskin. Baskin runs a big cat sanctuary in Florida called Big Cat Rescue. Her husband has dubbed her the Mother Teresa of Cats. If Jim Jones had been reincarnated and came back as a crazy cat lady, he would have been Carole Baskin. Baskin spent years criticizing Exotic and the GW Zoo. Exotic’s video and internet TV rebuttals are legendary, and at times, down right scary. Exotic liked blowing things up with dynamite and firing his numerous firearms on film in a fit of rage. At times his rants and gun play are shocking, and he no doubt raised quite a few red flags with local law enforcement and abroad. The feud got so intense the FBI got involved when rumors began to circulate that a hitman had been hired to take Baskin’s life. 

This series is like someone putting a bowl of your favorite ice cream in front of you. How could you possibly not dive in head first? Tiger King is the ultimate guilty pleasure. There is a whole cast of whacky characters. You’ll meet other big cat owners, dozens of adorable tiger cubs, and more terrible haircuts than a high school yearbook from the ‘80s. Seriously, Flock of Seagulls have nothing on big bat owners when it comes to “unique” hair styles. 

Unknown during production, Netflix would drop this show during an equally bizarre time where many people have been ordered by the government to shelter in place and stay indoors. At seven episodes, Tiger King is a series you can easily binge in a day, but will no doubt leave you wanting more. Given the situation of the current world wide pandemic, Joe Exotic has become a much needed entertaining distraction. There is so much insanity in Tiger King, one could easily watch this series twice. If cave man wedding photos, eyebrow rings, and sister wives cults are your thing, then look no further! It’s a crazy world out there folks. Stay home and let Joe Exotic take you on an adventure you’ll never forget. 

Lee L. Lind