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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Entertaining ‘Tiger King’ couldn’t get any stranger


So … "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness." I've been reading about this Netflix Original series since it premiered on March 20. But my wife and I got around to watching it only this past weekend, when we screened all seven episodes over two days.

And our reaction? Surprised, amazed, disbelieving and definitely entertained.

If you haven't yet watched it (or if you don't have a Netflix account), here's the basic outline: Joe Exotic (born Joseph Schreibvogel but also known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage) is a guy who runs an exotic animal park in Oklahoma. Over the course of the seven episodes, we get to know Joe, his two (and then three) husbands, his enemies — along with a lot of information about the range of exotic animals being kept (legally and illegally) in private parks across the country.

Mostly, though, we get to meet a whole range of people who make up the most diverse and outlandish reality-based series ever produced. "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" feels like a cross between "Jersey Shore," "Duck Dynasty" and "Queer Eye"-meets-"Real Housewives of Tulsa."

Oh, and don't forget a bit of "Unsolved Mysteries"-meets-"Snapped."

 Every time you think things can't get any stranger, something happens that ups the ante. If it isn't the gun-toting Joe Exotic, it's his arch-nemesis Carole Baskin (whose own past involves her husband who mysteriously disappeared), Bhagavan "Doc" Antle (the South Carolina animal trainer whose own animal park is run like some sort of cult) or any of the shady characters Joe hires or, in desperation, reaches out to for help.

Co-directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" succeeds because of the many interviews that Good and Chaiklin amassed of all the principal characters. Most especially, there's Joe Exotic himself, the mulleted, self-styled animal-park owner who writes and sings country songs, runs for political office (governor and president) and who threatens Baskin every chance he gets.

Eventually, his actions catch up to him. But what a trip it is watching it all unfold.

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