I’ve covered a lot of true crime trailers in my time, but my god the trailer for Netflix’s Tiger King is 50 shades of utter chaos. I just – I haven’t listened to the podcast, so I didn’t know what to expect. But the official title of the docuseries is Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which pretty much sums it all up.
The doco focuses on Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a former tiger breeder who ran a roadside zoo in Oklahoma. The bloke has one hell of a colourful history. The remains of his YouTube channel document his totally normal days at the zoo, he once heavily featured in a 2011 Louis Theroux documentary called America’s Most Dangerous Pets, and he unsuccessfully ran for Oklahoma governor and president of the United States in 2018 and 2016, respectively.
The very skeletal gist is that Maldonado-Passage was convicted in 2019 over a plot to kill his long-time rival Carole Baskin, founder of the Big Cat Rescue Wildlife Sanctuary. He was also found guilty of killing five tigers, and for selling and offering to sell tiger cubs in violation of the Endangered Species Act. In January of this year, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
A snippet of the official synopsis reads: “Charismatic but misguided, Joe and an unbelievable cast of characters including drug kingpins, conmen, and cult leaders all share a passion for big cats, and the status and attention their dangerous menageries garner. But things take a dark turn when Carole Baskin, an animal activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary, threatens to put them out of business, stoking a rivalry that eventually leads to Joe’s arrest for a murder-for-hire plot, and reveals a twisted tale where the only thing more dangerous than a big cat is its owner.”
Cult leaders. Cult. Leaders.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness hits Netflix March 20.
Honestly, what did I just watch?