Musings on Netflix’s TIGER KING docuseries + Fan Casting the scripted version

Hello all! Hope you’re staying safe and well while staying home and  social distancing. Given everyone is cooped up inside, we’re all captive audience to whatever the streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. are offering. Like many of you, my hubby and I couldn’t help but watch the Netflix docu series TIGER KING, inevitably the most popular show on TV right now since its debut on March 20 (per Variety) and it’s got 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes too!

A rivalry between big cat eccentrics takes a dark turn when Joe Exotic, a controversial animal park boss, is caught in a murder-for-hire plot.

It’s not the kind of shows I typically watch, but then again there’s nothing typical about what goes on these days. To say reality is stranger than fiction is an understatement when it comes to this show. It’s one of those shows you have to watch just to see how bizarre it is, it truly defies explanations and at times even seems too outrageous to be true! But I bet filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin would say, ‘can’t make these stuff up!’ Right from its first episode, we already got a warning of sort… “Animal people are nuts…” then someone else said ‘monkey people are strange’… but they’re nothing compared to those who love tigers/lions, etc. “…the big cat people are backstabbing pieces of ***.” Normally you’d take such generalizations as hyberbole, but after seeing this doc, well maybe there’s some truth to that!

Take the man in the center, the Tiger King himself, now widely known as Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage (born Joe Schreibvogel), the self-proclaimed gay, gun-toting redneck is a polygamist, one time presidential AND gubernatorial candidate, and is currently serving 22 years in prison in a murder-for-hire plot, among others. This tweet says it all…

The documentary was filmed within a 5-year span and takes place primarily at what was called Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park (named after Joe’s late brother), which has since been renamed Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park under new owner, Jeff Lowe. Some would argue that Lowe ‘stole’ the zoo from Joe, which is just one of the many things that went south after Joe met the Las Vegas businessman. In any case, Joe is just one of a dozen extremely eccentric big-cat owners and their consorts/employees, etc. When you think something can’t get any more outlandish, comes another mystifying character that defies explanations!

As if the tragic accident weren’t scary and bizarre enough, the reaction of the zoo’s owner, yep, Joe Exotic himself, will make your head spin!! I’m not going to spoil it for you, it’s best that you experience it for yourself.

Most of the players of the doc series are male, but the women are just as memorable and well, peculiar. There’s Carole Baskin, Joe’s main nemesis who runs Big Cat Rescue nonprofit organization. She’s the one who’s been trying to shut down the big-cat breeders, and she seems to target Joe Exotic in particular. If you think tigers/lions fighting in the wild is ferocious, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Carole’s current husband Howard calls her the ‘Mother Teresa of Big Cats’ Oy, not even close. Honestly I have no idea just what the difference is between Joe’s zoo and what Baskin deems as a ‘sanctuary to many exotic cats’ when the animals are still held captive and not running out in the wild as they’re supposed to. I’m astonished why there hasn’t been any Big Cats Safety Act or similar regulations passed yet?? I have always been against people owning exotic animals and keeping them in their home (or in any kind of captivity), so if there’s any good takeaway from this show, it would be to raise awareness about animal cruelty and participate in the fight to stop them.

Oh, in addition to all the dramas surrounding big cats, there’s also a murder/missing person mystery here! Episode 3 basically focused on Carole’s first husband, Don Lewis’ disappearance that still remains unsolved. Despite all kinds of rumors and speculations, Carole has never been charged with any crime. He went missing in 1997, but since this doc series aired, the case has now been reopened (per Tampabay.com)

Truly, this show is not for the faint of hearts and it’s definitely NOT for younger kids, I’d say it’s a hard R rating because of all the foul language and some REALLY disturbing images, particularly when Joe went off on his fantasy on how he’d like to kill Carole. Though I believe the reason Joe went to jail was partly because he was setup by people who outsmarted him, his infantile and repugnant behavior surely incriminated him in the case.


Well apparently there’s already a scripted version in the works, not sure if it’ll be a miniseries or a film. According to this article, the one that’s reportedly optioned for a limited series already case Kate McKinnon as Carole Baskin. Hmmm, as much as I think Kate is hilarious, I’m not sure she’s the best actress for the part.

So hey, as an indie casting director/filmmaker myself, I can’t help but do my own dream-casting of the scripted series/movie just for the fun of it!

If you’ve seen the film, you probably don’t need to see the slideshow, but in case you haven’t, or as a reminder…

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So here’s my casting picks:

Joe Exotic – Michael Keaton

Carole Baskin – Julianne Moore/Amanda Seyfried

Howard Baskin – Jeff Goldblum

Doc Antle – Russell Crowe/Tim Robbins

Erik Cowie – Alexander Skarsgard

John Finlay – Tom Hardy/Shia LaBeouf

Mario Tabraue – John Turturo/Nic Cage

Jeff Lowe – Sean Penn/Jeremy Renner

James Garretson – Louis Anderson

Barbara Fisher – Linda Cardellini/Jenna Fischer

John Reinke – Alan Arkin

Travis Maldonado – Noah Centenio

Kelci Saffery – Alex Borstein

Josh Dial – Josh Gad

Tim Stark – Ben Mendehlson 

Allen Glover – Chris Cooper/Stephen Lang

Rick Kirkham – Billy Bob Thornton/Steve Buschemi

Anne McQueen – Melissa Leo


Have you seen TIGER CATS? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the doc series and/or your own casting picks!

8 thoughts on “Musings on Netflix’s TIGER KING docuseries + Fan Casting the scripted version

  1. I can’t comment on your casting choices since I have yet to watch the show. To be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it since that’s all I’ve seen people post about on Twitter and FB the last few days. Lol! I still have too many other shows to watch. Currently on Netflix, I’m in the middle of Altered Carbon season 2, so far it’s not as good as the first season and I’m having a hard time trying to finish it. Season 3 of Ozark just started so I’m actually going to finish that one first before coming back to Altered Carbon 2.

    1. Hey Ted! That doc series is absolutely insane! I think it’s worth a watch, it’s one of those things ppl will talk and obsess about for a while I think. SO much craziness going on, like train wreck you just can’t help but gawk!!

  2. PrairieGirl

    Watch this show? No way! I could barely watch the entire trailer it was so disturbing to me. But hey, if you like train wrecks I’m sure you’ll enjoy it ;-D

    1. Mwahahaha!! Yeah I normally wouldn’t be watching it either, but my curiosity got the best of me! But I had to watch a Jane Austen movie as a palate cleanser!

      1. PrairieGirl

        Yes, it sure sounds like you’d need some kind of antidote after watching it. I’ll enjoy hearing about it the next tine we can finally meet up in person again!

        1. Yeah totally! It’s SO far from what I’d normally watch, and not something I’m keen on watching again but it was an interesting distraction for a while 😀

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