Unsolved Mysteries was, when it first launched in 1987, a series that dramatized "true crime" through the use of dramatic re-enactments that turned fact, theory, and fantasy into a narrative that audiences could watch and get invested in. There was a public service element baked into it, in that they included a toll-free number that allowed viewers to inform the Unsolved Mysteries staff about any information they might have that could help solve the mysteries, which often involved people who were missing or dead without explanation. So, when the series relaunched over the summer and ran on Netflix, there was unsurprisingly some surprise and disappointment that Unsolved Mysteries didn't tackle the disappearance of Carole Baskin's husband.
Baskin, who became a household name as part of the Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness earlier this year, has maintained for years that she has no idea where her husband, millionaire Don Lewis. Lewis disappeared in 1997 and was declared legally dead in 2002.
In Tiger King, a docu-drama that uses true crime as an opportunity to lean hard into voyeurism, characters in the series suggest that Baskin likely murdered Lewis, and possibly fed him to one or some of the big cats that appear throughout the Tiger King series. Most fans come away from the series thinking that is somewhere between plausible and very likely.
Although there is no direct evidence that Lewis was murdered, investigators looking into the case say it's unlikely that he disappeared of his own volition, particularly since he left behind a $5 million estate, which Baskin inherited the bulk of upon his death. Typically, people who go on the run don't leave millions of dollars behind if they can help it.
Since the "Tiger King" saga became a viral phenomenon after the series' release, a lot of fans seem to have gone into the new Unsolved Mysteries expecting to see Baskin's case dissected, and maybe recreated, onscreen.
It didn't happen, although if you search Baskin's name along with "Unsolved Mysteries" on Twitter, you can see dozens of comments comparing people on Unsolved Mysteries to Baskin, implying that both she and the person she's being compared to were involved with the deaths of their spouses, but instead of facing a jury, ended up being interviewed by a Netflix camera crew.0comments
Lewis and Baskin disagreed about how to run the big cast rescue they ran together, and had wildly different personalities, according to interviews in Tiger King. He had considered moving to Costa Rica in the months leading up to his death, and earlier in 1997 had sought a restraining order against his wife, claiming that she threatened his life and had hidden his gun so that he could not defend himself. After is disappearance, the fact that he owned private planes and properties in Costa Rica made a quick and easy murder investigation much harder than if he had been demonstrably in one place in the days and weeks before he vanished.
With a second season of Unsolved Mysteries coming, and the Carole Baskin/Tiger King saga spilling over into narrative films and various other kinds of media, it seems like a gimme for Netflix to mine their own viral hit to fuel an exciting sophomore season of their other true-crime series. So...what are they waiting for?