Things get wild with Netflix’s ‘Tiger King 2’


On Nov. 17, Netflix released the sequel to one of its most-streamed reality shows, “Tiger King.” The first installment of the series kept many sane in the early days of the pandemic, when people were confined to their homes. It swept the nation in March 2020, with thousands of viewers railing against the allegedly wrongful imprisonment of the self-proclaimed “Tiger King,” Joe Exotic.  

The second season of “Tiger King” follows up on when the show left off and catches up with the cast on their newfound fame. Many characters, such as tiger handlers Jeff Lowe and John Reinke, have seen a boom in business. The zoo they run has seen thousands of visitors flood in since the show’s original airing.  

The first episode begins with a backstory on the past of Joe Exotic and his chronicles growing up as a gay man in the Deep South. From his prison cell, Exotic talks about growing up in the closet, his journey to become a police officer and his coming out story. Originally in a heterosexual marriage, Exotic came out after having two children. Once split from his wife, he married Brian Rhyne. Rhyne later died from lung cancer, along with complications from HIV. As seen in the first season, Exotic’s second partner, Travis Maldonado, died by suicide. His current partner, Dillon Passage, is imprisoned for the killing of tigers in his zoo. There is also mass speculation that he plotted a murder-for-hire plan by targeting his business rival, Carole Baskin.  

One interesting part in the series is the campaign for the pardon of Exotic by his friend Eric Love. Love and his team spent thousands of dollars on campaign material, private jets and limos, all brandished with the phrase “#FreeJoeExotic.” One section that shocked me upon watching was a scene of Love and his team campaigning for their cause in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. As soon as they left the site, the infamous riots broke out and hundreds stormed the Capitol.  

The second episode dove into the mystery behind Carole Baskin. Many speculate that Baskin, the owner of the show’s rival tiger sanctuary, had killed her first husband Don Lewis. Apparently, there is no evidence to back this claim. This, however, does not stop the crusade against Baskin started by Exotic and his team. Baskin since has taken to reading her personal diaries online in an effort to prove her innocence, her these readings have only complicated the situation. The second season provides testimonies from the friends and family of Lewis as they try to unravel what exactly happened to him. The mystery surrounding this man’s death was an engaging addition to the piece.  

In all, the second installment of “Tiger King” provides another look at the wild reality show many were encapsulated by during the start of 2020. However, I found myself bored at times with the show, as this season opted for more of a true crime investigative genre, rather than the sensational reality the first season provided. While I personally enjoy true crime, the second season failed to keep me engaged because it didn’t provide the same ridiculousness and sensation of the first season. Regardless, this show will still be an interesting watch for viewers who had the claws of “Tiger King” sunk into them during the pandemic’s early days.  

Rating: 3/5  

Cover photo courtesy: Tiger King 2 trailer via Netflix Youtube

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