How Much Tiger King Content Is Too Much?
Once we're out of social isolation, will we ever want to think of Joe Exotic again?
The saga of Tiger King‘s Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic has already been told a number of times. It first played out publicly across the subject’s own social media and video platforms. A New York magazine feature last fall brought the story to wider attention. Wondery produced its own “Joe Exotic” podcast, and that was quickly optioned as a television series starring Kate McKinnon. But it was last month’s Netflix docu-series that really turned the tale into a cultural sensation.
There’s no arguing that Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has been, well, a Tiger Balm to soothe our aches and pains during these stressful times. Though the question remains: will applying more help? For the projects that won’t premiere until after all of this, will anyone want to be reminded of this particular cultural headspace?
Netflix, naturally, will be the first to serve up more. On Sunday the streamer will premiere a bonus eighth episode—but don’t expect it to be a coda in the vein of the first seven. Instead, it will take the form of something of an “after-show” hosted by comedian Joel McHale. The teaser only serves to remind us that McHale remains surprisingly ripped for a comedian, but he’ll reportedly interview subjects from the show. Though, neither Exotic (currently in jail) or Baskin (who has blasted the series’ portrayal of her late husband’s disappearance) will participate.
Though, other projects are afoot, aside from the bonus ep and the McKinnon-starring project.
Investigation Discovery is angling to produce what it calls the “definitive sequel” to the show, though the plans push some of the more questionable dynamics of the popular reaction to the series to the forefront. The cable network has guaranteed Exotic’s own participation in the series, and yet it will focus on Carole Baskin’s former husband Joe Lewis’s disappearance.
Lewis disappeared almost 23 years ago, and in that time nothing but the most circumstantial of evidence has connected Baskin to the incident. The local sheriff’s department has reopened its investigation into Lewis’s fate, but Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told People that Baskin herself is not currently a suspect. “We don’t have any evidence to even call her a person of interest.”
Baskin is only even connected to Exotic’s tale because she wants to end the exploitation of endangered species in captivity. At what point does this risk becoming a sensational trial by media? Especially when many of Exotic’s own misdeeds are beyond question.
Of course, Netflix had dibs on directly adapting its own series (remember, the McKinnon show is based on a separate podcast), and it appears to be in the early stages of doing so.
In fact, Rob Lowe pulled the trigger early by announcing he had discussed the possibility of playing Exotic in a series from Netflix-exclusive mega-producer Ryan Murphy on Instagram. Deadline reports that it is indeed a possibility, but their sources stressed it was all very preliminary at this point.
Lowe may not seem like the most obvious choice to play Exotic, but Murphy may be one of the most obvious producers to tackle the project. Though, there’s no way to tell if he’d take the project in a campier direction like his American Horror Story series, or play it more prestige like American Crime Story (perhaps he could do for Baskin what The People v. O. J. Simpson did for Marcia Clark).
Still, given that Hollywood production is at a standstill right now, there’s no telling when this may come to fruition, or, indeed, if audience interest would still be there.
The immediate late-night riffs on the series, at least, make sense. Last night Stephen Colbert invited comedian Thomas Lennon on to Zoom in an Exotic impression. Saturday Night Live will produce a remote episode this Saturday, and we’d assume they’ll address Tiger King in one way or another.
We’re just wondering when, if ever, someone will ask former MadTV star Nicole Sullivan to give her take on Carole Baskin. She has a more uncanny resemblance to the animal rights activist that any working actress we can recall.
At the rate this is going, she’ll probably get her chance.
Shakespeare may have wrote King Lear in Quarantine. In 2020 America, we’re just churning out lots of Tiger King content.
Related: What to Read, Watch and Listen To Now That You’ve Finished Tiger King