Movies & TV / Columns

The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week: The Tiger King Edition

April 22, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Tiger King Joe Exotic

The 411mania Dumpster Fire of the Week

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a special edition of The 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week. I’m Bryan Kristopowitz.


So I finally got around to watching the mega popular and acclaimed Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness and, for the most part, I thought it was pretty good. I can’t say that I’m surprised that there are people out there in the world like Joe Exotic and all the rest (go to any state fair anywhere in the United States or work in any general retail environment and you will see people exactly like Joe Exotic all over the place) but seeing them in a TV show is surprising, since it just doesn’t happen all that often. It took me three sittings to get through all seven episodes (I didn’t watch the “after show” eighth episode) and, yes, I have to admit that I was bummed that Joe Exotic is in prison and there likely won’t be any future Tiger King episodes, unless the producers decide to do a deep dive into some of the other people in the show (like the big cat lover/wild animal collector that was also a former drug runner. Imagine getting that guy to meet Al Pacino so they can do a full on Scarface thing) or find another group of weird motherfuckers somewhere else to make a TV show out of.

And so, in this Dumpster Fire of the Week special edition, I thought I would take a look at the top 5 Dumpster Fires in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.


411 Dumpster Fire of the Week: The Tiger King Edition


5- Rick Kirkham: Kirkham is the reality TV show producer that had been making a reality show out of Joe Exotic, had loads of footage of Exotic and everyone else at Exotic’s wild animal zoo, and then lost all of that footage when the building housing that footage on Exotic’s property burned to the ground. In a sense, you can’t be surprised that something like all of that footage burning up happened because bad shit happens in the midst of endless chaos, and that’s what Joe Exotic is/was/will likely be forever, even in prison; endless chaos. And Kirkham knows that and talks about it several times throughout the show. At the same time, I felt bad for him because he spent so much time and money and effort putting a reality show together that, had it been finished, probably would have been a gigantic hit. And had it been a hit there would have been more to do and it could have gone on for years. Kirkham could have cashed out to some big cable outfit, made a shitload of money, and retired like he wanted to. It didn’t happen. That sucks for him.

4- Carole Baskin: Baskin is Joe Exotic’s mortal enemy, the owner and operator of a big cat sanctuary in Florida that wanted to put Joe Exotic out of business. Baskin is also the subject of speculation as to whether or not she murdered her second husband Don Lewis. I have no idea if she did or not (the show certainly makes a case for that possibility, but then Tiger King is a TV show that’s interested in being entertaining above all else so why should I completely believe that case is real and to be trusted?), but it’s hard to feel sympathy for Baskin when she seems so oblivious to how the accusations against her sound. I’m sure she thinks if she treats them as ridiculous the accusations will be seen as ridiculous, but that’s not what happens on the show at all. Yes, again, reality TV is all about manipulating the audience, but you can only manipulate the audience to a point. The producers have to have material to manipulate. And damn near every time Baskin is on camera she gives the producers all of the material they need. Go ahead and watch the show again. You’ll see what I mean.


3- Joe Exotic: Yes, it seems kind of weird that the main subject of the series and the guy that loses pretty much everything and ends up in prison isn’t the top Dumpster Fire, but it’s also hard to completely dump on a guy you end up feeling some sympathy for when the show is over. Exotic was psychotic in his hatred of Carole Baskin (did he really have to make all of those internets videos where he said he wanted to kill her? That kind of thing is never wise), he made bad business decisions over and over again, and he believed far too much in his own bullshit. The man was doomed from the beginning. But you do wish he was still around and free to appear in more episodes when the show is over. You really do want the shitshow to continue.

2- Jeff Lowe: When I started watching Tiger King I only had a vague understanding of how the show was going to end. I knew that Joe Exotic ends up in prison. When Jeff Lowe, the Las Vegas playboy that ends up buying Exotic’s zoo shows up I knew immediately that this guy was going to fuck Exotic over. I knew that he was likely a criminal and a scumbag and would be the guy that somehow destroys Joe Exotic. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what Lowe does. He destroys Joe Exotic (well, he destroys the aspects of Joe Exotic’s life that Joe Exotic doesn’t destroy himself). And the show ends with Lowe pissing off another business partner so that’s probably all you need to know about him. What a terrible person.



And the 411 Dumpster Fire of the Week: The Tiger King Edition top spot goes to:


1- James Garretson : Garretson is the businessman and fellow big cat enthusiast that decides to wear a wire for the federal government in the case that eventually brings down Joe Exotic (a murder-for-hire scheme). Now, I have no idea what Garretson’s business actually is (he has that storefront that he’s interviewed in but what the hell does he sell from there? Is that just an office or something?), but, my God, why would anyone do business with him at all? How could you not get a vibe, immediately, upon meeting him that you shouldn’t do business with him at all? In fact, why would you want to hang around with him/want to know him? Why? And, my God, why would you ever confide in him about anything? You can tell that, when the shit hits the fan, he’s going to be the one that turns on you first. And isn’t that sort of what happens? Exotic goes down, and he seems to suggest that he’s going to bring Lowe down, too, at some point. And he probably will.

Garretson’s biggest crime, though, in terms of the show? That sequence where he rides a jet ski and he thinks he’s the coolest motherfucker in the world. Yes, the producers may have asked him to participate in the sequence, but he could have said no and not done it. The sequence is so goddamn ridiculous.



Thanks for reading. Agree? Disagree? Sign up with disqus and comment. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Please “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column on Facebook!

Oh, and B-movies rule. Always remember that.