Netflix Review: Tiger King

Just completed the 7 episodes of the Netflix documentary: Tiger King. This is one of the most horror real life series watched ever. I mean seriously, with every episode ending, it gave a new shock and twist to the story. This series had been released last year, and it had been on my To Watch list for quite a while. But somehow, I used to just watch the first few minutes of episode 1, and stop the documentary. But then, I decided to enter his Tiger kingdom, and know what makes this guy famous!

Having completed watching this series, I can say that I am actually horrified the way they ended this series. I mean this is real life story. So, the things shown in the documentary are for REAL, and not like the fake real in reality shows. People’s lives have been at stake, including the Tiger King – Joe. I find that this documentary has everything to offer. Rather, I can put it this way. Is there anything not there in this documentary? Because, it has horror, suspense, comedy, music, murder, hero, villain, fights, politics, business etc etc. This even surpasses the typical bollywood movies which are often infamous for making a masala movie with all sorts of fights and romances.

I wont go into the story. Neither I want to discuss who is guilty or who is not. Because, for me, they all seem to be guilty. Joe, who is known as Tiger King, is currently in jail for killing tigers and attempting to hire for murder of Carol. The documentary shows the ever-lasting feud between Joe and Carol. And as if their feud which included all possible methods of revenge or harrassment was less, the documentary shows several other characters in and around them, which play important role to their life. I would say do watch this documentary, with ofcourse certain discretion as its not a very family friendly documentary. Many scenes are horrific, beyond reason or even common sense. Before writing this review, I got depressed after watching this documentary end ( though it was kind of expected). So, PLEASE WATCH WITH CAUTION.

One of the most terrifying part of this documentary is the evil side of human nature being displayed by almost everyone, maybe with one or two exceptions. I wont take any names, as they all are real life people, like you and me. But I found most of them having vicious nature. Many of them had felony charges, so its not surprising. But the way feud was aggravated, with not only throwing mud at each other, but also getting to the point to threaten to kill each other. I mean this is disgraceful. I even felt many time if I was watching Godfather, or Irishman or even a cold war era spy movie. Because such types of movies show such heinous scenes of crime and injustice. But looking at the lives of real people in this documentary , I find no difference between those movies and this one.

The worst part is how American culture is obsessed with money and fame. I am not saying all Americans act in similar way. No they don’t. Because I have stayed in the USA for 5 years, and know enough Americans, to know the difference. But the point is that this culture of intense competition and feud is a part of American culture. And making money plays a big role in it. History tells us be it Coke vs Pepsi, Microsoft vs Apple, Google vs Yahoo, Amazon vs eBay, Ford vs GM, CNN vs Fox News etc etc, we can find so much cut-throat competition amongst companies to dominate the market, and thereby get rich. I find similar feuds shown in this documentary between the companies which want to dominate the live show market of exotic wild animals such as tigers, lions, ligers etc. The only difference between other so called reputed companies, and the ones shown in this documentary is the way they handle the feud. The mainstream companies settle their disputes amicably, with out of court settlement, or even lobbying pressure. While the ones shown in this documentary cross the limits of human civilization and decency. Else,there is no difference. The America culture has always encouraged this competition under the disguise of capitalism and free market, but in reality, the beneficiary are only a few high position occupying people in these companies.

As the title of the documentary says Murder, Madness & Mayhem, it actually perfectly suits it. Because even though the documentary shows wild animals which are caged or even bred for the sake of entertainment, but it hardly throws any light on what can be done to solve this problem, and thereby make the life of these wild animals safer and healthy. Rather, all this documentary shows is the feud between companies, their people, the insights into their life, their music compositions, their legal disputes etc. Even though it does cover the indictment of Joe, and finally ends when he goes to jail, but I am left with the question of what would happen to those 200+ wild animals kept in his zoo? Will they be simply transfered to another zoo owned by another person? I mean finally, those animals are the real sufferers, behind the cage, isn’t it? Don’t they deserve to be lived freely in the wild forest? And the irony is the documentary shows the woman fighting for this cause, but she herself has kept the wild animals in the cage, and charges people to view them with the help of volunteers, who are not paid? Is there any better business model than this one?

Another thing which struck my cultural aspect is the portrayal of the person who has a Hindu name. He shows to be a follower of a Guru, who had been to the Woodstock festival. He claimed to be eating veg food, and living the life as his Guru wanted. But this is all wrong and misleading. Because on one side, he claims to be living a ascetic life, but on the other side, he has several partners ( beautiful white christian women given hindu first names) with whom he has sexual encounter with. I hate to write this, but this is kind of an insult to Hinduism ( which happens to be my religion, but I would certainly feel the same way for all religions if they had been portrayed in such a negative way). I think that man has not understood Hinduism, or for the matter any religion. Because, all religions convey the message of peace, love and happiness. Using a particular religion by just using its names, or pretending to follow a certain teacher, is not following the religion. I find this to be a problem with few white Americans. They had been a part of hippie commune during 1960’s and 70’s, and even though the hippie movement subsided, these few people continued to exploit the local Americans by showing them to be following an alien religion ( like Hinduism or Buddhism), under the disguise of yoga, meditation, philosophy, enlightenment etc. This is all WRONG. They have completely misunderstood that religion. Infact, all they are doing is just gathering followers by being different, and filling their coffers with $$$. Thats it!

Thus, I end the review here. Its a one time watching documentary. It has very different story, something which is not seen very commonly in real life. For the real life depiction and excellent filming of the documentary, I would give a 3.5/5 rating. But I am not happy with the way things ended. I hope justice will be delivered to all of them. But then, I remind myself that after all its an American story….

Author: Abhi

Hello, this is Abhishek. I am an Electrical Engineer by education, and worked for an Energy Management company in Atlanta, USA. After staying for 5 years in United States, I have moved back to my country, India. Besides work, I am a bibliophile and enjoys reading about history, current affairs, and biographies. I practice ‘Sudarshan Kriya Yoga‘ meditation and volunteer for a NGO, Art of Living. I am a vegetarian, and also a fitness enthusiast. I intend to work for spreading awareness about Cancer. Finally, I enjoy writing and I hope to integrate this interest into my career with more experience. Please like, share and subscribe to my blog. Thank you for visiting!

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