Netflix lockdown hit Tiger King and its bizarre carnival of characters is back. Joe Exotic. Carole-killed-her-husband-Baskin. Bhagavan Antle. Jeff Lowe. Names that became more familiar than former work colleagues during Australia’s first wave of COVID have returned (some allegedly unwillingly) for a second season of the surreal documentary with Tiger King Season 2 now streaming on Netflix.
Maybe we as an audience are in a better mind frame today, or our bar for shock and schlock is a little higher because this second outing of the hit show seems to lack the spark of the original.
In a nutshell, season one documented the rise and fall of mullett-going, gun-wielding, wannabe killer – yet highly charismatic – Joe Allen Maldonado-Passage (known professionally as Joe Exotic and eponymous ‘Tiger King’), owner and operator of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood (GW Zoo), Oklahoma.
To refresh your memories, Tiger King’s first season introduced us to the world of big cat owners in the USA where regulations around exotic animals are rather laxed to put it mildly. It specifically centres around one Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist and CEO of Big Cat Rescue with an immense animosity towards Joe Exotic (and vice-versa). The series focused on the pair’s on-going feud, which was ignited by Baskin’s constant attempts to shut down the GW Zoo. Of course, Joe Exotic being the man he is, thought it a smart idea to hire a hitman to kill Baskin. Exotic is now in prison serving a 22-year sentence for two counts of murder for hire and 17 federal charges of animal abuse.
That’s not to mention Exotic’s slew of polygamist relationships, his meth use, suss business dealings, failed musical career, and a whole bunch more (you have to see it to believe it, folks).
But given just how much drama unfolded in the first season, the second series attempts to take off from this point, and albeit a wild, crazy ride, hasn’t seemed to live up to the first season’s hype.
In season two, we come to learn that Exotic was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He is still serving his 22-year prison sentence. Baskin is still suing Netflix over unagreed footage – whilst closing in on acquiring GW Zoo. Jeff Lowe, an arch-enemy of sorts to Joe Exotic, is still a crazed man on a mission to ruin Exotic’s life. But perhaps the biggest question of them all is still left unanswered: did Carole Baskin actually kill her husband, whacked him? That remains to be seen…
What we do know, and what the show does incredibly well to highlight, is that these characters are still terrible, terrible people who seem to think nothing of the abhorrent treatment of the exotic animals in their possession.
While the internet is in two minds over the newest season, what is guaranteed is the same bizarre-scenarios the show’s characters find themselves in (Jeff Lowe hiring a bodyguard who practices shooting guns at a big picture of… Jeff Lowe is just strange). While season one was able to deliver viewers an over the top, trashy soap drama/who-dunnit, Tiger King season 2 simply didn’t seem to live up to its (over?) hype.
Tiger King 2 is now streaming on Netflix