Let’s Discuss: Tiger King

Hello, all you cool cats and kittens! 

If I didn’t start this article that way, would you believe I actually watched the show?

Raise your paw if you got pulled into America’s quarantine pastime, the Original Netflix Documentary series, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.” I jumped on the bandwagon mainly out of curiosity. 

So, this show... It is twisted! And my feelings about it are very complicated. When I watched this series, I was shocked to learn how much more there was to the story and the world of private exotic animal zoos. Frankly, it disturbed me. There were varying accounts of abuse, violence, arrogance, misogyny, cruelty, gaslighting, and exploitations - of animals and humans. Just so much suffering. Yes, there were some funny bits, things that shocked me in a humorous way - Joe’s hair and outfits, for instance. And sure, it was fascinating to learn that you could buy a tiger for around $2,000, and maybe you have that in your savings, but let’s not forget the part about how much money it takes to feed and care for the animal!

In this complicated time as OPL’s Book Club Librarian, I would like to offer a way to make sense of this pop culture phenomenon. You’re already talking about Tiger King, so why not start a “binge club” to untangle your thoughts about the show? Find a way to connect and bond with others by discussing what you are watching, just like you would with what you read.

Set up a Zoom meeting or Google Hangout! A classic phone call or even a text thread with some folks is a great place to start!

Here are some discussion questions to facilitate your conversation:

  • How did the documentary make you feel?
  • What’s been your favorite meme about Tiger King?
  • Which person in the series did you empathize or relate to?
  • What did you learn from this series?
  • Would you buy Joe’s music albums? Why or why not? 
  • What do you think of Joe’s music and lyrics?
  • Which part of the series stood out to you? Why?
  • Which part of the series disturbed you most?
  • Would you recommend this series to anyone? Why or why not?
  • What is Jeff Lowe guilty of? Should he be in jail?
  • Would you have voted for Joe for president or governor?
  • Did Carole kill her husband?
  • Who set the fire to the recording studio and alligator shelter?
  • Would you pay to go to one of these zoos? Pet a tiger cub? Have your picture taken with a wild animal? Have you ever?
  • Are there any good people in this series? How do you feel about them and their struggles? What do you feel about the way they were portrayed? Was it fair?
  • What was with that jet ski shot? 
  • What do you think of Joe’s multiple marriages? Would you marry Joe?
  • Should the series be made into scripted series or movie? Who would portray who?
  • The documentary proposes that all these people got into the business for the conservation of wild animals, but none of the businesses seem to actually be doing that. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • And finally, my most pressing question: What happened to those adorable dachshund dogs??

Reading other stories can also assist with processing your feelings. Check out this list of read-a-likes for the documentary. I hope you jump on these recommendations like a tiger to a boot covered in sardine oil. 

Happy reading and cheers to fruitful discussions!