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The Technical Aspect of the Production in Tiger King

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The series spent considerable airtime insinuating Baskin may be responsible for the 1997 disappearance of her ex-husband

She is not considered a suspect, said Hillsborough County sheriff’s spokesperson Merissa Lynn, noting that the investigation has not ruled anyone out. Baskin’s most prominent accuser is the man convicted of trying to have her killed. In October, she was given a global award of excellence from the world’s foremost agency that accredits animal sanctuaries for her “visionary leadership and advocacy efforts to end the private possession and trade in exotic cats through legislation and education.”

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Being crazier than the world outside is an awfully high bar to clear right now. But the Netflix documentary Tiger King soars over it with room to spare. A self-described “gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet” who amasses one of the country’s largest collections of wild cats, Joe Exotic (né Schreibvogel) would be a full meal for a more sedate series, but directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin serve up a seven-course, five-hour banquet of off-the-wall characters, enough to justify their subtitle: “Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.”* Tiger King is also a sprawling, ethically shaky mess, starting off as an abstracted, Errol Morris–style character study (complete with knockoff Philip Glass score), shifting to a first-person filmmaker-on-a-quest framing, then settling into the familiar shape of a tabloid-TV magazine show—and that’s just within the first 10 minutes. The opening teaser spoils what ought to be the story’s big reveal—that Joe, the garrulous, animal-loving proprietor of a private zoo, ends up in jail as part of a murder-for-hire plot—in the name of hooking viewers early, and the series keeps cutting back to phone interviews with him as it meanders its way toward its sordid conclusion

Goode told Vanity Fair that Netflix pushed to emphasize the story’s outsize personalities at the expense of the animal-rights themes he saw as its core, and the result is that when Tiger King tries to wrap up its lessons with a tidy bow, it feels like the conclusion to an entirely different series.

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Altogether, in one such verbal attack, shortly after he’s acted out a sexual assault on a Baskin mannequin and shot it in the head, Joe tells Baskin, “I’d like to thank you for all of the publicity you’ve been giving me recently. Because I am making tons of money

Drama makes money, Carole. You know that better than anybody in the world.” I suppose the people behind Tiger King knew that, too.

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