Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness TV Poster Image
Sensational murder-for-hire docu is chaotic, profane.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Issues range from murder plots to exploitation of big cats in the United States. The personal and professional lives of exotic cat park and sanctuary owners are also central to the series. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Carole Baskin is the target of Joe Exotic's anger, but ultimately no one looks good in this series. 

Violence

Tension between animal rights activists and exotic cat parks is described as a "war." Murder is reason for the show, and threats to cause harm are frequent, and sometimes reference past violent events. Sexual assault is briefly discussed. Guns and hunting rifles are shown, occasionally shot. Physical and online stalking tactics are described. Tiger attacks are described, animal abuse is discussed; on occasion, dead tigers are shown. A cast member dies by suicide; video footage of a person watching the scene is shown. 

Sex

Plural marriages are a central theme in some episodes. Sexual exploitation, extramarital affairs, and porn are all discussed. The G.W. park gift shop sells sex toys and underwear. Personal struggles with sexuality and acceptance are discussed. Crude language  ("p---y" and "c--t") is sometimes used. 

Language

Words like "damn," "bitch," and curses like "s--t," "f--k" are used throughout the series.  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of cigarette smoking. Drug use (pot, crystal meth) and addiction is referenced, and death of a sibling as a result is discussed. A prominent convicted drug dealer and exotic big cat owner is featured. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is a docuseries about a complicated murder-for-hire plot in the world of exotic big cat ownership. Guns, angry threats, explosions, and conversations about the disposing of bodies (animal and human) are featured, but are often downplayed despite their serious consequences. There are graphic descriptions of animal abuse and attacks on humans, and limited imagery of dead animals, and big cats feeding on animal parts. Extramarital and polygamous relationships, sexual exploitation, and other mature themes are discussed. Cursing, cigarette smoking, and references to drug addiction are also present throughout. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 and 15-year-old Written byteacher_mom April 3, 2020

Mature audiences only! Adult content throughout.

This is a documentary, but don't be tempted to show it to younger audiences! The main "characters" are almost all completely morally bankrupt an... Continue reading
Adult Written byTruthful April 8, 2020

Moral Failure

Check out Sophie Gilbert's write up on The Atlantic. I watched several episodes and felt convicted so stopped. I wanted to see what all the hype was. Fr... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 3, 2020

Incredibly written and performed documentary has sex,violence,drinking

Tiger king is hands down one of the most best Netflix documentary’s of all time. The plot of the documentary kept getting interesting and it really does keep on... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysoftballgirl14 June 25, 2020

Not for young kids

There is lots of drugs usage, there is murder for hire, there is one person who accidentally kts, there is gay marriage but personally i dont have a problem wit... Continue reading

What's the story?

TIGER KING: MURDER, MAYHEM AND MADNESS is a documentary series that follows the bitter rivalry between a private animal park owner and the CEO of a big cat rescue. Filmmaker Eric Goode documents the antics of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, the country singing owner of Oklahoma's Greater Winnewood (G.W.) Exotic Animal Park, which is home to over 200 big cats. The charismatic park owner has a long-standing rivalry with Florida activist Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, who is committed to shutting down exotic cat parks. With the help of archival footage and interviews with Joe Exotic, Baskin, their partners, staff, and other big cat park owners, it reveals how the ongoing strife eventually propelled Joe Exotic to hatch a murder plan. 

Is it any good?

This sensational docuseries tells a bizarre tale of a little-known world that highlights the animosity between private big cat park owners and animal activists. A murder for hire is at its heart, but much of Tiger King is dedicated to showcasing the extremely colorful lifestyles of big cat owners, including Joe Exotic, convicted drug kingpin Mario Tabraue, and Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, the mystical cult-like owner of Myrtle Beach Safari. Stories about Carole Baskin's multiple efforts to stop them, which include cyberstalking, are also combined with details about her former life as a private big cat breeder, and lurid rumors (fueled by Joe Exotic) about the fate of her second husband. This results in a distorted story that mixes in facts with anecdotes and gossip. 

Overshadowed by all of this mayhem is the reality of the criminal world of the exotic cat trade in the United States, in which private parks function as financially lucrative cub breeders and animal petting operations. It's also a world in which both private parks and rescue sanctuaries use exotic species to exploit young people and other vulnerable populations looking to make connections with animals. But what's most problematic is that the scenes revealing a darker, angrier side to Joe Exotic, who is openly and unapologetically committed to destroying Carole Baskin by any means necessary, are scattered throughout the chaotic series in a way that makes his behavior seem kooky rather than worrisome. As a result, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Tiger King sets out to chronicle a violent story about a murder for hire, and that it takes forever to do it.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way Tiger King tells the tale of Joe Exotic's murder-for-hire plan. How much of the story is based on fact? How much of it is based on rumors and suggestions? Is mixing fact and fiction an ethical way for a documentary series to tell a story?  

  • What are some of the ways media can present violent acts as something that is normal, tolerable, or funny? How does this contribute to the way people are potentially desensitized to violence

  • What is cyberstalking? How is it different from cyberbullying? Is there ever an appropriate reason to engage in this kind of online behavior? 

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