Tiger King 2 Review: Joe Exotic Causes Big Cat Chaos – Minus Carole Baskin | Television

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Wwhat did you do with all that free time when Covid forced us inside in the spring of 2020? It is common to admit having wasted it. Television’s biggest contributor to this mass waste was Tiger King: Murder, Madness and Mayhem, a lockdown phenomenon watched by millions of people, despite belonging to a burgeoning category of Netflix documentaries that is more of the human circus than real crime. No one did well, including the viewers who clung to it.

By the end of the original Tiger King (yes, I stuck with it), we had learned how Joe Exotic, Oklahoma tiger park owner, YouTuber and failed presidential candidate, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for plotting to kill her nemesis, Carole Baskin, Florida tiger park owner and animal rights activist. We heard the story of Exotic’s aggressively eccentric life, with each episode revealing another gruesome incident that illustrated the chaos within America’s seemingly lawless Big Cat community: the staff member who lost a half -arm ; the partner who used cute tigers to lure women into threesomes with his wife; the day Exotic’s much younger husband accidentally shot himself and passed away. The twist was that Baskin was also the kind of eccentric who shows like that feeds himself. Tearful and floating, unlike Exotic’s crass showboating, she was a selfish lunatic whose first husband, Don Lewis, disappeared in 1997 and has never been found.

Tiger King 2, the five-part sequel, has a problem that often blocks the aftermath of blockbuster documentaries: it tries to pick up confetti after the parade has already passed. Exotic is in jail, so there are no new photos of him with his eye-catching smile and sparse mane. Episode one sidesteps this by diving into his youth, claiming his narcissism was brought on by family mourning and the experience of growing up gay in the rural south.

Baskin declined to participate further, a decision slightly compromised by the fact that she uploaded hours of footage of her reading her diaries to YouTube. These clips form his appearances in episodes two and three, which re-investigate the disappearance of Don Lewis. Has he embezzled money from his businesses, his wife and into a new life in Costa Rica? Baskin, as Joe Exotic and his followers suspect, did he kill Don and feed him to the tigers? (She points out that she has “never been a person of interest, according to the Sheriff’s Department.”) Or is there another equally crazy explanation? In what is now established Tiger King style, the analysis descends into a grueling swamp of vulgar hearsay, one garish character after another making unverifiable claims about private jets, gang grudges, or full vans. weapons.

The last two payments go to Joe Exotic, and if his conviction for conspiracy to murder Baskin is founded. The ideal outcome for Tiger King, if its creators hope to return for a third season of twists and turns that would be deemed too crass for the most trashy soap opera, would be Exotic’s exemption. This would leave him free to fight leopards like he did in the good old days, with the terrible bonus of finally achieving the global notoriety he always dreamed of.

His army of fans argues that he should be released on the grounds that Baskin is a contemptible liar – they phrase it differently – and there is something here about the radicalization of modern culture, where once a no one has chosen a team, they defend it. whatever the facts. (The campaign to get Exotic out of jail for a while focused on trying to get Donald Trump to grant a presidential pardon, and it looks like he almost did.) Tiger King is more of an indulgence of that impulse than a comment on it, because a lot It boils down to watching people chase oxen for their own good, like trolls in an online war that has taken a hideous life. But it turns out that people with the “Free Joe Exotic” tattoos and custom painted Cadillacs with tiger stripes unknowingly have one point: The new series records key moments when alleged co-conspirators begin. to change their stories.

Ending on that bombshell means Tiger King 2, which always teetering on the fence between proper factual TV and a waste of time exploiting everyone’s time, falls pretty much on the safe side.

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