What makes Tiger King so good?


From captive tigers to hired hitmen, the Netflix documentary Tiger King has become the most talked-about show in America. There have been countless debates and memes spreading like wildfire across social media lately, and for people who have not seen the show or do not understand the hype surrounding it, what makes Tiger King so good? Here is the answer.

Tiger King stars Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage, a gay polygamous zoo owner residing in Oklahoma, whose life is documented over the course of five years by a documentary crew. In these five years, absurd and tragic events take place. The show includes elements from all genres; it is a murder mystery, mob story, comedy and romance all wrapped up in one package. 

The star of the show, Joe Exotic, is a one-man-band of eccentric personality. He is a musician, internet show host, ex-political candidate, entrepreneur and zoo owner, with his last role being a prisoner sentenced with 22 years in allegations of attempted murder of a rival, animal abuse and illegal animal trafficking acts.

The documentary has more strange characters than just Joe Exotic, like the cult-like zoo owner “Doc” Antle, manipulative widow and self-proclaimed animal rights activist Carole Baskin, and ex-drug kingpin Mario Tabraue. Most characters in this show are arguably bad people, and this makes for an interesting watch since there are not many people to connect with.

The beauty of this show mainly comes from its storytelling. The story in the show is so outlandish that it is hard to believe it is true at all and there have been rumors that a movie based on the documentary is in the works. 

In an interview with CNN, former executive for CNN and former president of HLN Scot Safon explained why this show is so binge-worthy.

It has these characters you couldn’t make up,” said Safon. “Fiction could not do it justice. There’s mystery — several mysteries — that hover around, and lots of room for speculation. And it’s hitting us all at a moment when we’re kind of in search of something worth talking about that’s not personal or related to the way we’re living.” 

I believe another factor for the success of the show comes from the fact that most of the U.S. population is currently stuck in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are actively looking for a show to escape this uncertain situation, and as Safon says, something worth talking about that is not related to the way we are currently living.

The power of this show has shed light on the ongoing captivity of exotic wildlife in America and has reopened a missing person case involving a character’s husband. Just this last Sunday, April 12, there was a new follow-up episode featuring a few characters from the show in interviews with Joel McHale as host.

If you are looking for a new show to binge under quarantine, I highly recommend Tiger King on Netflix, as it has something for just about anyone.