blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020) s01e04 – Playing with Fire

This episode’s about how awful both Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin turn out to be when it comes to money. Baskin’s won a lawsuit against Joe Exotic and he owes her a cool million. Carole and Howard aren’t doing it to prove a point or to stop Joe from doing his cub petting roadshow, they’re doing it to bleed him dry.

The problem with bleeding Joe Exotic dry is he’s pretty smart about putting everything in other people’s names so it doesn’t seem like he owns anything. And when they do start trying to squeeze that stone… well, it’s just going to hurt Joe’s sweet old mom, who had the zoo in her name or something, which leads to Joe’s mom on the streaming channel talking about how Baskin’s been hounding her.

Again, really want to know how many people watched these streams.

Meanwhile, Rick Kirkham is making his reality show and trying to get Joe Exotic to amp it up. Kirkham doesn’t need to push hard because give Joe the chance, he’ll play mean private zoo boss all on his own.

But all suing Joe Exotic’s going to do is starve the animals and it never seems like Baskin—Howard speaks the most this episode—has any concern for the tigers. When we hear about the settlement Joe Exotic turns down, there’s nothing about what to do with the 200 tigers. You’d think it’d be a story thread to pick up on but the history intervenes. Joe’s new pal, “businessman” Jeff Lowe—you get the feeling people are going to investigate him after this series and he’s going to sue them all—is going to step in and save the zoo. So Joe puts it in Jeff Lowe’s name and Lowe steals it. The cliffhanger is Lowe beating the tigers. It’s swell.

Because the episode’s already upbeat after someone sets fire to Joe’s studio, which is the same building as the alligators and they all die. Kirkham’s footage gets destroyed too. Basically Joe Exotic and company think Kirkham did it, Kirkham thinks Joe Exotic did it.

Kirkham sort of has a better reason for not doing it—without his footage, the reality show is just… but, seriously, he didn’t make backups? In like, 2015 or something. He could have pretty easily made back-ups. It’s a weird screw-up.

But then Kirkham had screwed Joe out of his own Internet streaming show so motive for Joe. The show doesn’t look too hard into it before Lowe shows up to ruin the day.

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