Netflix TV review: Tiger King Season 2
Written by Belinda
PETA agent Brittany Peet
This feels incomplete without Carole Baskin
Maybe the moment has passed
A lot has happened since Season 1 of Tiger King first aired on Netflix in March 2020. As Covid-19 lockdowns brought the world to a grinding halt, people looking for a distraction from the pandemic were glued to their screens, making the jaw-dropping series a cultural phenomenon that attracted 64 million households to watch it, according to figures released by the streaming giant. In the USA, Donald Trump was voted out and President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January 2021. If Season 1 held up a mirror to Trump’s America then Season 2 plays out like it’s taking care of business and cleaning up a godawful mess that it was somewhat party to.
Since then, Joe Exotic, aka the Tiger King, launched a failed petition to get pardoned from his prison sentence, a fictional feature movie based on the events starring Nicolas Cage was greenlit by Amazon Studios and then shelved, and Carole Baskin, who received an onslaught of misogynistic abuse, has filed a lawsuit against Netflix for use of footage of her and her husband Howard in the follow-up season.
Baskin’s refusal to partake in this season directed by animal rights activists Rebecca Chaiklin and Eric Goode is partly down to the fact that she feels betrayed by the filmmakers and the way they depicted her unproven involvement in the disappearance of her former husband Don Lewis. Clocking in at five episodes, Season 2 seemingly attempts to make amends with Baskin by dedicating an entire episode to Don Lewis’ secret life away from Carole, including disturbing and allegedly illegal behaviour. Yet, without the inclusion of Baskin’s voice and opinion (aside from old footage), the gesture seems empty.
While watching, you also get the sense that everyone involved feels ashamed at how this whole thing played out, Joe Exotic and the filmmakers included, even if it did lead to the closure of multiple roadside zoos. There’s less salacious focus on the big personalities’ outrageous actions and more on the indignation of PETA Captive law enforcement agent Brittany Peet, who explains how they went about taking the whole cruel and corrupt system down.
There’s an episode entirely dedicated to Joe’s life before he became the Tiger King in an attempt to round out his public persona. The show also looks at the way those involved capitalised on their new-found fame. There’s more scheming by Jeff and Lauren Lowe, and one not-that-surprising revelation by Allen Glover who was the hitman-for-hire in the plot to kill Baskin. There’s also a heartbreaking episode that looks at how numerous people capitalised on the pain of Lewis’ family, after his disappearance.
Money talks and by giving this story a global platform in which to play out, the coyotes certainly started circling. With everyone lying their heads off and changing their stories and allegiances every five minutes, it’s difficult to know what to believe – something that should have been apparent to the filmmakers in Tiger King Season 1.