weekend binge

It gets weirder: ‘Tiger King 2’ and the clash of the queer cat lovers

Tiger King 2

Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every week, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

The Second Roar: Tiger King 2

With the COVID-19 pandemic at last on the wane, what better way to commemorate it with a bookend. Tiger King pounced upon the world as shutdowns and social distancing forced us all to stay home. At least we all had a bizarre and bonkers saga of feuding big cat lovers to keep us purring.

Now Tiger King 2 arrives to (hopefully) close out the pandemic the way so many of us opened it. Directors Eric Goode & Rebecca Chaiklin open the series with a victory lap of sorts, documenting the cultural impact of the first season of the show with Instagrammers imitating Joe Exotic, the gay, tiger-loving maniac now serving time in prison for attempted murder, and Carole Baskin, the bisexual cat enthusiast that Exotic tried to assassinate…and who may or may not have killed her late husband. But far from a warmed-over rehash of the first season, Tiger King 2 reunites the main players for a continuation with even more weird twists.

Two main narrative threads drive the five new episodes. The first follows Joe Exotic in his flailing–and ridiculous–attempt to earn a pardon from Donald Trump. As Trump leaves office, that plea mutates into a push for a new trial, with at least one key figure–supposed hitman Allen Glover–now claiming that he was part of an elaborate scheme to cheat Exotic out of his zoo, and put the man behind bars. The other storyline follows the family and friends of Don Lewis, the vanished husband of Carole Baskin, as they take advantage of the renewed interest in Lewis’ disappearance to further investigate the case, and the likelihood that Baskin murdered him for his fortune. Of course, this is Tiger King, so no shortage of you-can’t-make-this-up characters join the series roster, including a self-proclaimed YouTube detective, a tiger-chasing lawyer, a death psychic and a cadre of other big cat fans.

Among the series most captivating moments: Jeff Lowe, the man accused of stealing Joe Exotic’s zoo tries to open a combination strip club and baby tiger playplace. Don Lewis’ associates in Costa Rica hint he may actually still be alive. Fans of Joe Exotic lobbying for a pardon from Trump get sucked into the January 6 Capitol Insurrection. Joe’s husband, Dylan Passage, becomes enamored of newfound fame and the men it affords him. Joe tries to find love in prison. One subject threatens to slit the throat of the directors.

As with the first season, it’s all berzerk, and totally captivating. Much as with the documentaries of Nick Broomfield, the people profiled in Tiger King are so strange, so unique, no author could ever conceive them. This is a story unlike any other out there, a series that combines Dynasty with The Jerry Springer Show. Since we also have a feeling we will one day see Tiger King 3, we recommend getting caught up now.

Streams on Netflix.