By Brendan Labra, Student Writer
While the Coronavirus has essentially put everyone on a lockdown quarantine, one show has captured the eyes of an entire nation; Tiger King. The Netflix documentary series premiered in late March and was immediately met with audience and critical acclaim.
Tiger King’s crazy and outrageous plot has made for perfect binge-worthy television in this unprecedented time. Now here at the Pulse, we are going to go on a deep dive of each episode, serving as a recap for those who simply cannot get enough. We begin with the series’ opening episode, “Not Your Average Joe”.
We are introduced to Joe Exotic, the owner of the Greater Waynewood Exotic Animal Zoo. Exotic is, in a word…interesting. Exotic’s zoo boats hundreds of exotic animals including full grown and baby tigers and lions. The zoo was a major attraction for locals, but Exotic was set on growing it to even bigger heights. This is where Rick Kirkham comes in.
Kirkham was a former anchor for Inside Edition. He was brought on to oversee production of Exotic’s online show, as well as begin production for a reality show that would star Exotic and the antics. They hoped that the show would bring attention to the zoo. Exotic, with the help of Kirkham, produced and uploaded shows to his internet page on a daily basis. Most, if not all the shows were focused on one person, Carole Baskin.
When we first see Carole Baskin, we are introduced to her as the owner of Big Cat Rescue, a center devoted to caring for big cats that are displaced as a result of breeding or trading. Baskin’s goal is to shut down zoos that promote the breeding of tigers. She sought out Exotic’s zoo as a target. This obviously does not sit well with Exotic, who takes it upon himself to drag Baskin’s name through the mud on what seems to be a daily basis. This is where a great majority of the show’s conflict takes root.
Other important characters are also introduced in the opening episode, most notably, Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle. Antle also owns a big cat zoo located in South Carolina and is Exotic’s role model.
As the episode continues to progress, we see tensions rise to a boiling point between Exotic and Baskin. Baskin and her husband are attempting to shut down Exotic and his zoo. Exotic’s response to this is very extreme as he posts multiple videos threatening to murder Baskin. The show then fast-forwards five years to find that Exotic has become an inmate in the Grady County Jail for conspiring in a murder for hire.
Big Cats and Big Drama
Tiger King has effectively taken over the entertainment landscape in the passing weeks. The series features overwhelming twists and turns that transpire as each episode continues. This opening episode mostly serves as a way for the audience to dip their feet into this wild world. We are getting acquainted with the characters and settings that take place throughout the series.
The most obvious plot line is certainly the feud between Baskin and Exotic. These two are the heavyweight hitters that take over the show as the plot progresses. That being said, it is essential that we keep all of the secondary characters in mind, as nearly everyone in this story plays a major role.
Check back soon for the Pulse’s second deep dive on Tiger King episode two.