Type keyword(s) to search


Why does Tiger King treat Carole Baskin as the villain while sympathizing with Joe Exotic?

  • "In a series that is bursting with felons, cult leaders, polygamists, wife abusers, animal abusers, and cruel egomaniacs, it’s Baskin alone who is treated without sympathy," says Willa Paskin of the Netflix docuseries, adding: "You only have to look at the show’s treatment of Exotic to see the high level of sympathy it can bring to even the most extreme scuzzbuckets but that it cannot muster for a woman whom this scuzzbucket threatened to kill multiple times." Tiger King, says Paskin, "introduces audiences to a sordid menagerie of human beings. The hybrid series, a docutainment that crossbreeds the formal respectability of a long-gestating documentary with the high-octane shenanigans of the wildest reality show, catalogs the major players in America’s big cat scene, the egomaniacs and weirdos who keep, breed, and traffic wildcats in captivity. Each is ickier than the next: the former drug dealer who boasts he’s the model for Scarface and seems, compared with everyone else, pretty sanguine; the bone-chilling authoritarian who collects wild animals and women; the convicted felon who strangled his wife and uses tiger cubs to procure sex. And there’s the star of the show, Joe Exotic, aka Joe Maldonado-Passage né Schreibvogel, the outsize, gay, polygamist, gun-toting, mullet-having, fame-obsessed Tiger King, who is currently serving 22 years in jail for a murder-for-hire plot. Somehow, none of these men is the show’s villain. That ignominy belongs to the woman Joe Exotic tried to have killed, Carole Baskin. Baskin is the proprietor of the respected nonprofit Big Cat Rescue, an organization that takes in abandoned and dangerous big cats. She has dedicated her life to keeping big cats from being bred in captivity, and lobbied Congress to pass a law forbidding the breeding and petting of tigers—not that you would know this from the show, which encourages viewers to think of Baskin’s work as ethically bogus, and to see her as another dirty big cat abuser. When it’s not doing that, it’s presenting her as the creepy lady who probably killed her husband and then financially hounded Joe Exotic until he hired someone to kill her. One of the craziest things about this crazy-a** show is the bad edit that it gives to Carole Baskin, making a murderer and a bona fide reality TV villain of one of the few participants who has not actually been convicted of anything murder-adjacent."


    TOPICS: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Netflix, Carole Baskin, Eric Goode, Joe Exotic, Rainn Wilson, Rebecca Chaiklin, Rick Kirkham, Trevor Noah, Trump Presidency