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Tiger King (Miniseries)

"Hey all you cool cats and kittens"-Carole Baskin.

In the past week or so since its release, the world has gone mad for the crazy bunch of white trash featured in Netflix's TIGER KING.

For 5+ hours and 7 episodes, the documentary immerses you into the world of big cat owners, breeders and exhibitors.

Solid proof that truth is often stranger than fiction, it feels more like David Lynch at his most eccentric than a real-life crime drama.

Each big cat owner is crazier than the last.

First, we meet Joe Exotic himself, a "a completely insane, gay, gun-toting, drug-addict fanatic" that somehow becomes the most ingratiating character of the bunch.

Joe's music videos (available on two 22 song volumes on DVD in the gift shop alongside his best selling big cat underwear) are classic kitsch, but I'm convinced that "Here Kitty Kitty" has some serious legs.....

He's often at odds with animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who persists in being self righteous, even though her definition of what she does at her "zoo" and how its different from Joe is a very thin line that I never found.

Soon we add Dr. Bhagavan Antle to the mix, a portly, elephant riding zoo dude who has many women in his harem that seem willing to do his Svengali bidding. Why? I have no idea.

Lastly, "wealthy" investor Jeff Low. Wrapped in Harley Davidson leather and oozing cash, he's the Vegas high roller that the rest of the hillbillies all look up too as their Ed Hardy shirts get splashed in tiger urine and week old WalMart meat.

The deeper you get, the more there is to ponder.

How does someone like Joe Exotic win people over so quickly? How does he instill such loyalty in his people? The fact that he tends to recruit from people as they walk out of prison while taking in strays certainly feeds that beast, but when an employee gets their arm ripped off by a tiger, they're back at work in week because they dont want Joe's zoo to suffer.

That's pretty amazing loyalty.

There are more subplots than any ten Datelines combined. Missing husbands and big inheritances, three-way gay marriages, people running for office and throwing condoms to the crowd and enough gun toting, jet ski ridin', AK-47 blastin country idiots to cast Jerry Springer through the 2025 season. (Is that show still on? I digress...)

Our narrator for much of the film is Inside Edition alum Rick Kirkham, who brings a level headed sense of journalism alongside a genuine sense of WTF at the antics of all these yokels. When Kirkham casually mentions the fact that he was hooked on meth, it dawned on me that you'd practically have to be to follow these people around for five years and film every damn minute of their adventures.

While there are many laughs, there are also many sad moments and one jaw dropping moment of reality as a character dies violently while the cameras roll.

It's those moments and the filmmakers willingness to just let these people speak for themselves that fascinated us so much.

At one point in a late episode, one character is interviewed while he's in the bathtub. The fact that that setting seemed just fine to him didn't even strike me until I realized "that dude's in a bathtub...?"

For people who proclaim their undying loyalty and love for their animals, the tigers themselves are often the last things on their minds. Power, money, sex and acceptance are their true focus, sadly leaving the animals as a distant responsibility that only occasionally enters their minds.

When you're this busy trying to get rich, famous and laid, it doesn't leave much time for animal tendin...

TIGER KING is an engrossing freak show that gets a solid B.

'Before you bring me down, it is my belief that you will stop breathing."-Joe Exotic

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