blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020) s01e08 – The Tiger King and I

At the end of The Tiger King and I, host Joel McHale—sitting in his living room because the coronavirus pandemic has him in lock down (the Trump Flu plays a big part, presumably, in all the interviewees ready availabilities)—makes a crack about how there’s nothing he won’t do for money, implying Netflix hired him to do the special.

Except McHale’s an executive producer. Did Netflix have to woo him with that credit—and did it actually work—or did he pitch them on the idea, sitting around in his living room, FaceTime-ing with eight of the “Tiger King” regulars. Not Carole Baskin, who everyone thinks killed her husband. Instead it’s all Joe Exotic’s former pals; they all think he belongs in prison, some hoping he dies in there, some thinking he deserves to be released.

Pretty much everyone except “still wants to be a campaign manager” Joshua Dial and “still an abject scumbag ‘Inside Edition’ producer” Rick Kirkham think the documentarians—not involved with this after show—did a terrible job as far as accurately presenting them. Given Saff Saffery is a man, yeah, they did a bad job presenting people. Also, McHale shouldn’t be the one to finally address whether or not the suicide Dial witnessed (on camera too) was intended as a suicide.

Spoiler: per Dial, it wasn’t. Might have been nice to know during that section of the documentary.

At the same time you have John Finlay talking about how the shirtless interviews were his idea.

Does current zoo owner Jeff Lowe come off better? A little. A government conspiracy seems a lot less likely all of a sudden for whatever reason. And his wife, Lauren Lowe, shows more agency than she ever did in the actual show.

Lowe’s still a scuz and can’t resist the opportunity for a homophobic Joe Exotic impression.

The regular people employees of the park—Erik Cowie, John Reinke, Saff–seem more than willing to talk about Joe Exotic shooting animals so you wonder why the documentary makers didn’t talk to them about it. At the end, Rick Kirkham seems to start to say, “I shot a tiger,” but changes it over to Joe Exotic. They were talking about the regularity of shooting tigers… big slip there. Can’t imagine it’d have gone over on “Inside Edition.”

There are some horrifying further stories about the zoo and Joe Exotic’s running of it, which also seem like they should’ve been part of the main series. Incidentally, McHale mentions multiple times it’s the most popular documentary of all time, which is true and terrifying.

For the streaming equivalent of a cash grab, it’s not bad. It’s nice to get some idea of just how much the filmmakers of the series were manipulating things. Misgendering a main interviewee seems like a big one.

The special’s just as manipulative, of course; between the whitewashing of Kirkham and McHale’s “gesturing down” mentions of Wal-Mart, it’s not like it’s so Netflix can retroactively establish some integrity for it. Should they? Eh. But I’d probably rather watch a diss series against the filmmakers than the movie version everyone keeps talking about.

Especially since no one casts it as well as I did….

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