Netflix's latest true crime docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness has become a huge hit for the streaming service, with the complex and frequently shocking story of big cat conservationist Joe Exotic and the various characters that make up the strange, interconnected world he operates in. However, one of those people, Carole Baskin, has been openly critical of the series and now, its producers are speaking out, refuting Baskin's claim that their goal was to make a series that was salacious and sensational for the purpose of getting viewers.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin addressed Baskin's comments, insisting that they were not only forthright with their presentation of the characters involved, but that the story shifted a great deal from the time it was pitched to the time it was completed.
"I would just say we were completely forthright with the characters," Chaiklin said. "With any project that goes on for five years, things evolve and change, and we followed it as any good storyteller does. We could have never known when we started this project that it was going to land where it did."
In a recent post on the blog for her own animal sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue in Florida, Baskin slammed the docuseries, claiming that the series was pitched to her as a "big cat version of Blackfish", but ultimately ended up having "the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers" -- including covering the disappearance of her previous husband, Jack Donald Lewis, in 1997.
"When the directors of the Netflix documentary Tiger King came to us five years ago they said they wanted to make the big cat version of Blackfish (the documentary that exposed abuse at SeaWorld) that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive," Baskin wrote. "[The documentary] has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don 21 years ago," she wrote. "The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims. They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers."
Goode addressed Baskin's criticism directly, stating that Baskin knew the series wasn't exactly a big cat Blackfish and that she wasn't coerced in any way.
"Carole talked about her personal life, her childhood, abuse from her first and second husband, the disappearance of her ex, Don Lewis," Goode said. "She knew that this was not just about ... it's not a Blackfish because of the things she spoke about. She certainly wasn't coerced. The other thing I would say about all these people is that there was a lack of intellectual curiosity to really go and understand or even see these animals in the wild. Certainly, Carole really had no interest in seeing an animal in the wild... The lack of education, frankly, was really interesting -- how they had built their own little utopias and really were only interested in that world and the rules they had created."
Baskin isn't the only one with some complaints about Tiger King, either. John Finlay, Joe's ex-husband, recently expressed some disappointment that the series didn't show some of the personal improvements he made in regard to his life and appearance, specifically his new teeth that give him a much different look than the shirtless, nearly toothless appearance featured in Tiger King.0comments
According to TMZ, Finlay got his teeth redone in July 2019, choosing to complete the entire procedure at one time, rather than gradually. The dentures give Finlay a completely different, much healthier look, and he's apparently a little frustrated with Netflix for not using any of the footage of him with the new teeth in the documentary.
All seven episodes of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness are streaming on Netflix.