While Gal Gadot and her celebrity friends’ Imagine cover may not have brought everyone together during the pandemic last year, it was certainly Netflix’s Tiger King that got the job done. From Facebook groups to podcasts, last year’s corona lockdown left everyone at home, with an important topic for discussion alongside viruses and that of Tiger King’s shadowy characters. With Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin becoming household names and the return of the true-crime series for a second time, things have long since changed. For starters, the audience is no longer in lockdown but is the subject of the series. For the irreverent, Joe Exotic was jailed for attempting to kill Baskin on animal cruelty charges and under federal law, and is now serving a 22-year sentence. Will being behind bars on Exotic change things for Season 2? Let’s find out.
The second season of Tiger King is getting five episodes and after watching the first episode too much, I get up and say, I’m pretty disappointed. After reaching the core of pop culture with the first season, the second part mainly starts with a celebration of the success of the same and seems to be endless. The constant reminder of the show’s success makes you wonder if this is just something Netflix forced its producers to brag about or if it speaks volumes about how the pandemic has impacted everyone cognitively. The characters, which are unfortunately not fictional. The series begins when Joe communicates behind bars claiming he has been framed while everyone else is enjoying himself at his expense, most notably Jeff Lowe, who is now at Greater Wynwood Exotic Animal Park, and claims he now has “more money.” than God.”
The introduction to Tiger King season 2 isn’t very strong and you could argue that with its key characters, Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin missing as front and center, there’s nothing left to do. The show takes us back to the pandemic and speeches of former US President Donald Trump, where supporters of Joe (full name Joseph Alan Maldonado-Passage) try to apologize to the president for him. Looking at history, it’s not far-fetched to ask for Joe’s pardon from Trump, but with private jets and limousines being towed for it, it seems Trump won’t be kicking it either. With no choice but to ask for apologies, the show is about Joe’s personal life, especially his younger days. We learn about his career as the youngest police chief in Texas and the time he was bullied for being a gay cowboy. The series shows Alien in a sympathetic light at several points that seem unnecessary.
Joe’s husband Dylan also shows up and doesn’t seem to regret Exotic’s imprisonment. During one of the prison phone calls circulated throughout the episode, Alien also mentions how her husband didn’t come to see her when they were arguing, the morning he was arrested. Not only Dylan, but Joe’s former associates dwell on Tiger King’s influence and discuss whether his former boss deserves the punishment.
The plot and purpose of Tiger King season 2 seems to be scattered all over. Since Joe’s life sentence is the main topic of discussion, attention quickly turns to Carol Baskin’s missing husband, Don Lewis, who went missing in 1997. The true-crime docu-series seems to have exhausted most of its important material for the first time and this time it’s a dull affair. Like the first time, the show’s focus remains on the sinister characters and their chaotic lives, with no regard for animal cruelty and other real-world issues that need to come to light. Unfortunately, the impact of Netflix’s (reported) 64 million viewers for the show’s first season has only negatively impacted the well-being of the very big cats around which the show is staged. And it’s clear Lowe revealed how the pandemic caused the park to be massively visited thanks to the show’s popularity, despite researchers claiming the animals were also susceptible to catching COVID-19. Not to mention the strange heroism that Joe showed up while Carol was subjected to significant online abuse and death threats. This is all wrong to say the least.
With the way the first episode kicks off, it looks like Baskin’s missing husband will be getting more attention and what will be the first part of a satiating cringe fest, it seems. Joe Exotic’s music videos also don’t create as much drama as they did last season. I can expect the show to hopefully pick up its pace over the next four episodes, despite its uneven start, when the recap and celebration of success takes on these shameless aliens to make way for some truly mind-blowing shit. The series still maintains its vibrancy, but can be frustrating for those looking to find something different.