Treat yourself like quarantine royalty and binge watch Netflix's bizarre docuseries Tiger King | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Treat yourself like quarantine royalty and binge watch Netflix's bizarre docuseries Tiger King

click to enlarge Tiger King - PHOTO: NETFLIX
Photo: Netflix
Tiger King
I received a text from a friend yesterday, recommending a show on Netflix called Tiger King. I immediately thought it was a kids show by the name of it and figured I'd probably seen enough of those lately with my children at home. But my wife and I turned it on last night with little else to do, and the docuseries pushes American reality far beyond what seemed possible with parody.

Tiger King follows Joe Exotic, a self-made, exotic animal collector and private zoo exhibitor, and a myriad of other bizarre characters found in the exotic animal community — yes, there is an exotic animal community. We quickly learn that Joe Exotic is currently in jail, but we're not told why, which keeps viewers engaged with the weirdness. 

Tiger King quickly introduces Exotic's competitors, partners, and enemies. And things only get weirder. Employees live in rat-infested mobile homes, volunteers work 12-hour days, and harems of women in animal print athleisure wear fawn over Exotic's mentor, Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, who is equally as strange if not stranger. Oh, and a handler loses an arm to — you guessed it, a tiger mauling — and instead of drawing negative media coverage during reconstruction surgery, the worker decides to have the arm amputated and go right back to work.


I don't want to give too much away, though that seems impossible, considering how much spectacle there is in Tiger King. Along with all the eccentric people in the show, viewers must grapple with the ethical issues posed by breeding and keeping wild animals for profit. Tiger King has enough insanity, intrigue, and politics to distract even the busiest minds from your worries — unless you're worried about being mauled by a tiger.      

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