The huge reputation of Netflix’s seven-part documentary miniseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has inevitably led to some backlash, from critics who’ve argued that this twisty true-crime saga plays too loose with the details. Tiger King is an entertaining collection in regards to the outlaw life of American big-cat breeders, however the doc’s creators, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, clearly selected to emphasise their characters’ colourful eccentricity, slightly than telling a meticulously researched, well-argued story about homicide plots and animal abuse.
Over this previous weekend, Netflix launched an eighth episode of the collection, known as The Tiger King and I. Part epilogue and half reflection, this new Tiger King chapter presents some closure, however for probably the most half, it’s a wasted alternative. It may’ve stuffed in a few of the present’ narrative gaps and addressed a few of its extra controversial components. Instead, it doubles down on the components of the collection which have drawn probably the most criticism: the unsubstantiated accusations of felony habits, and the dishy gossip about actual folks’s sophisticated lives.
It’s necessary to notice that Goode and Chaiklin’s names don’t seem anyplace within the credit of The Tiger King and I. Netflix has slotted this particular because the collection’ eighth episode, which suggests anybody who begins binge-watching Tiger King right this moment may simply mistake it for an official finale. But it’s labeled as an “aftershow,” and as such — like Talking Dead or Beyond Stranger Things — it’s extra a commentary on the collection than a continuation.
As a commentary, The Tiger King and I takes its cues from host Joel McHale, a slapstick comedian who initially rose to fame within the 2000s by making enjoyable of the ridiculousness of actuality tv for E!’s The Soup. McHale doesn’t skewer Tiger King right here; he’s clearly a fan. But he does method the collection as if it have been one thing to gawk at: extra like Shahs of Sunset or Keeping Up with the Kardashians than a probing documentary a couple of unusual and borderline-criminal American subculture.
McHale conducts interviews with eight of Tiger King’s topics. Each dialog passed off remotely, because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Each has been edited all the way down to about 5 minutes, and decreased largely to the topics’ juiciest feedback in regards to the present’s two most distinguished characters (each understandably absent from this particular): outspoken roadside-zoo proprietor Joe Exotic, and his animal-rights-activist rival, Carole Baskin.
In speaking to the collection’ minor gamers, McHale indulges in frequent good-natured teasing in regards to the methods they have been portrayed within the collection. He by no means pushes again in opposition to something they inform him, nor does he attempt to maintain them accountable for a few of the issues they mentioned or did within the documentary. Instead, he provides them an opportunity to push again, to complain about how Goode and Chaiklin introduced them.
Some of the corrections are welcome. Joe Exotic’s transgender worker Kelci “Saff” Safferty addresses being misgendered all through the miniseries. (He’s not indignant.) And Joe’s previously shut associates Erik Cowie and John Finlay clarify why Tiger King followers ought to cease pondering of them as “drugged-out hillbillies.”
But McHale is commonly deferential to a fault. He appears to assume Jeff and Lauren Lowe’s swinger life-style is hilarious, and he’s keen to let the Lowes and others trash Baskin, suggesting (with solely circumstantial proof) that she’s chargeable for the demise of her second husband.
McHale additionally lets Joe Exotic’s fiercely libertarian political advisor Joshua Dial ship a brief anti-government rant, and lets the veteran tabloid TV reporter Rick Kirkham assert that Joe was really frightened of tigers — all with none follow-up inquiries to put these feedback into context. Similarly, when Cowie refers to “the absurdly crass things” Joe Exotic would say, McHale doesn’t take the possibility to pursue the concept any additional, although one of many criticisms leveled at Tiger King is that Chaiklin and Goode — by their own admission — purposefully excluded incidents of Joe’s racism.
It may’ve been extra revelatory to let a few of these folks argue with one another about their perceptions of the reality, slightly than venting to McHale. At the very least, it’s unconscionable to not have Goode and Chaiklin within the combine, answering for the methods they informed this story.
Because for all its faults, Tiger King is unquestionably defensible. It’s a extremely watchable docu-series, with insights into the grandiose delusions of self-made celebrities within the web age. The Tiger King and I, then again, lets a few of the doc’s topics hold absorbing consideration whereas criticizing Goode and Chaiklin, with none reasoned objections from McHale or anybody else.
Frankly, this can be a bum transfer by Netflix, to make its new “last episode” of Tiger King right into a 40-minute spherical of self-aggrandizement and unchecked debunking. Rather than truthfully answering the nay-sayers’ real questions and issues, the collection now ends with a shrug and a smirk — and by letting the bit gamers redefine the story, with none of the accountability a documentary wants.