Why ‘Tiger King’ is the show you need right now

Tribune Content Agency

Bless you, Netflix.

Over the weekend, my wife and I finally finished “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” the stranger-than-fiction documentary series about the unique subculture of big-cat owners.

My jaw is still embedded in the floor.

This seven-part series is the most bizarre, bewildering, outrageous, hilarious and totally bonkers thing I’ve ever seen. And that’s why it just might be the show you need to help you get through the shelter-in-place blues.

Face it, you could use a wild, over-the-top diversion in this age of coronavirus. And so, as a public service, we present five reasons you need to watch “Tiger King”:

1. It will help you escape … to another world

Did you know there are American citizens who actually own and live with lions and tigers and other gigantic animals? Neither did we.

It’s an incredibly weird community populated with oddballs like Joe Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, aka the Tiger King. He’s a gay, mulleted, profane, gun-toting polygamist and country western singer who, when we first meet him, runs an Oklahoma roadside zoo, where he breeds tigers for big profits.

Joe has an arch enemy in a Florida woman named Carole Baskin, an animal-rights activist who would love nothing more than to put Joe out of business.

Their rivalry is at a snakes-in-the-mailbox kind of intensity. The Hatfields and McCoys had nothing on these two.

2. You’ll thank God for social distancing

“Tiger King” is filled with characters who you’ll want to keep at a distance of way more than 6 feet. More like six states. At least.

There are felons and creeps and potential murderers who will leave you convinced that the wrong creatures are being kept in cages. (And give you comfort that, yes, you lead a relatively normal life).

Included among this bunch is Dr. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, a self-described doctor of “mystical science.” As far as we know, he hasn’t killed anyone, but he too has his own zoo, where he rides atop an elephant named Bubbles and apparently maintains a harem of female “apprentices.”

3. Cat videos — the therapy you seek

Everyone knows that cat videos rule the internet. People can spend hours watching the playful shenanigans of cute kitties on YouTube.

“Tiger King” offers up not only supersized cats, but adorable little tiger babies. Even if you’re repulsed by the humans in the documentary series — and how they use animals for questionable purposes — your heart will melt every time a tiger cub is on the screen.

And that just might represent some kind of psychological benefit in these stressful times.

4. A comedy? A drama? Heck, it’s EVERYTHING

You can’t help but laugh (and snicker) at the outrageous antics of some of the attention-starved misfits in “Tiger King.” Joe Exotic, for example, actually ran for governor and instead of generic campaign buttons, he handed out condoms with his face on them. (He has his own underwear line, too).

But the series has also contains all the elements — and then some — of a compelling, down-and-dirty true-crime saga. Or did we forget to mention that Baskin has been accused by some of killing her second husband — a multi-millionaire — and feeding him to a tiger?

Or that Joe Exotic apparently targeted Baskin in a murder-for-hire plot?

A wild kingdom, indeed.

5. Your favorite celebrity is way into it

Remember how everyone — including some famous folk — went nuts on Twitter during the “Sharknado” craze? It’s happening again as isolated viewers look for things to keep them entertained.

Celebrities, including Cardi B, Kim Kardashian West, Sam Smith, Pete Holmes and many others have taken to social media to laugh at, ridicule and obsess over “Tiger King.”

Cardi B seems to be especially smitten, tweeting repeatedly about the series and even talking about starting a GodFundMe account in support of Joe Exotic.

Others aren’t so thrilled. Take, Lucy Lawless. Seems that the Warrior Princess wants nothing to do with the Tiger King.


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