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The People of “Tiger King”: They’re Not Great

The Kingdom of “Tiger King”: Rated from Pretty Okay to the Absolute Worst

*WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King.” Reader discretion advised.

“I really appreciate the fact that none of these people like me.” One of the many infamous quotes said by Carole Baskin in Netflix’s hit docuseries, “Tiger King.” As it turns out, this quote is applicable to most of the people featured in the show.

The series released on March 20 of this year and it became an instant hit. Social media blew up with memes, conspiracy theories and the occasional problematic “hot takes.” The internet’s response aside, one thing is certain: most of these people are pretty terrible. 

Here’s a list of the main players of “Tiger King” rated from best to worst, according to me. Feel free to keep your own list but if you call Joe Exotic a “gay icon,” your opinion is immediately invalidated.

10. Saff Saffery (Former keeper at Joe’s zoo)

Source: Netflix

Saff is, by far, the best person in this series. He is one of the few voices of reason and seemed to have a pretty neutral view on how things went down. Saff really just wanted to do his job and have a bit of fun in the process. While trying to do his job, Saff got his arm bitten off and it only deepens our sympathy for the poor man. (Especially when Joe’s more worried about his finances than Saff’s well being…more on that later.)

Speaking of standing up for Saff, he is a transgender man and was repeatedly misgendered by everyone in the entire series. It made my blood boil. Even the show creators used his dead name in his introduction text. In the bonus episode that premiered on April 12, Saff spoke about the continued misgendering. He was his usual calm, collected self and claimed that audiences were more outraged about the inconsideration than he was. In the words of the youth of today, we have no choice but to “stan” Saff.

9. Joshua Dial (Joe’s former campaign manager)

Source: Netflix

Arguably, Dial is not a major component of this story. But he was the only one to make me laugh out loud in the course of this ridiculous, upsetting journey. He, like Saff, was one of the few saving graces of the series. His dry humor and blatant honesty made me want to be his friend in real life.

He called his job as campaign manager for Joe Exotic “the worst experience of his life.” Perhaps that’s what makes him so likable; he’s honest about how awful Joe is and doesn’t make us sympathize with him like other people do (ahem, the director…but we’ll get to that). Dial also witnessed the suicide of Joe’s late husband Travis, making us sympathize with him. The incident truly portrayed just how horrendous the situation that Joe dragged him into had become.

8. John Finlay (Joe’s ex-husband)

Source: Variety, courtesy of John Finlay

This poor man. He was manipulated in so many ways. He said, in the first episode, that he met Joe when he was about a month out of high school. Joe abetted John’s drug addiction and preyed on his vulnerability to make him “fall in love” with him…which, of course, we all know wasn’t really love. In fact, John admitted later on in the series that he wasn’t even gay and had been cheating on Joe for quite some time with a woman. They eventually divorced.

Although John worked at Joe’s twisted zoo and was his right-hand man for quite some time, he was ultimately the victim of a disgusting and selfish manipulator. Not to mention the fact that the directors only used interviews of him with his shirt off and portrayed him as a clueless meth addict. (That cut of talking about “meth mouth” and going to John smiling…clever editing but insulting to John.)

7. Rick Kirkham (Joe’s former producer)

Source: Netflix

I’m just going to say it: Kirkham’s voice annoyed me. Obviously, this doesn’t make him a bad person but I just thought I’d throw it out there. What does make him a bad person is the fact that he didn’t care that Joe was a horrible, abusive, manipulative person; he only cared that the man made “great tv.”

I admire Kirkham, in a way, for being a successful producer and journalist. But I do think his ethics were flawed in trying to make Joe a national sensation when he knew how poorly Joe treated his animals and staff. He was also one of the ones who repeatedly misgendered Saff. But, in the end, he’s just a man who was trying to do his job. Comparatively, he’s not all that bad. But he’s not great.

6. Howard Baskin (Carole Baskin’s current husband)

Source: Netflix

I would argue Howard is chaotic neutral. He does whatever he’s told by Carole and he didn’t do anything explicitly dreadful like others in the series. I definitely think Carole’s manipulated him in ways similar to Joe manipulating his husbands. However, by doing everything Carole says, Howard probably did some pretty questionable stuff.

For example, regardless of their intentions, Carole and Howard sued Joe Exotic’s mother, a woman already being sucked dry by Joe, and bankrupted her. They undoubtedly hurt several others in their pursuit of putting an end to Joe Exotic’s empire, like suing several of the zoo’s blameless staff members. The couple probably views these incidents as collateral damage but they affected real lives in their vendetta. Howard also aids his wife in the hypocritical caging and profiting off of big cats. In the end, though, you can’t hate the poor dude for being whipped. Also, on a separate note, that photo was truly amazing.

5. Eric Goode (Director/producer of “Tiger King”)

Source: Mike Pont – WireImage

One of the worst people involved in the series is barely seen on screen. Eric Goode, an entrepreneur and filmmaker, has become a bit of a household name with his breakout hit “Tiger King.” What people might not know is that he is also a “wealthy hospitality mogul” who owns several swanky hotels and restaurants in Manhattan.

In their tell-all article, Buzzfeed News detailed the chronicles of the workers laid off by Goode in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the article, approximately 70 waiters and cooks were laid off by the director in March. While other employers have worked to provide for their unemployed workers, Goode’s former employees reported that he hasn’t lifted a finger to help them in their time of need, despite his millions and newfound Hollywood fame. Further details about Goode’s blatant disregard for his employees can be found here.

In addition to his recent corona controversy, I have qualms about the way Goode portrayed the people of “Tiger King.” Throughout his series, he victimized Joe Exotic (a narcissistic, manipulative animal abuser), villainized Carole Baskin (who is not great but surely does not deserve all the hate she’s receiving as a result of this show), portrayed multiple subjects (John Finlay, for example) as clueless rednecks, let everyone misgender Saff, and barely even drew attention to the main issue at hand (the abuse and problematic keeping of big cats). While the series is certainly entertaining, it can be seen as problematic.

4. Carole Baskin (Owner of Big Cat Rescue)

Source: Netflix

Ah, Carole Baskin. Although that Carole Baskin remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” is one of the best things I’ve ever seen, I think the fact that social media has decided to make her the main antagonist of this story shows just how misogynistic our society really is, whether implicitly or explicitly. With that being said, Carole is not guiltless.

I have differing opinions on the circumstances of Carole Baskin possibly killing her husband. But murder is murder and I think she probably killed her husband. Which is pretty bad. Regardless of if she really did it or not, Carole took a large sum of her husband’s abundant assets after he disappeared. By doing so, she stole a large portion of her husband’s inheritance that should’ve gone to his first wife and their daughters. In addition to her fishy handling of her missing husband, Carole did some bad sh*t long after the murder debate was a hot topic in the 90s. Carole and Howard sued several staff members of Joe’s zoo in order to get to Joe. Carole exploits hundreds of volunteers for free labor. (Which can be seen as a smart business decision but like…it’s wrong. It’s like an unpaid internship.) 

Finally, my biggest grievance with Carole Baskin is, what I see as, her blatant hypocrisy. She advocates for big cats to be free, to not live in cages and what is Big Cat Rescue? A “sanctuary” full of cages. Despite her intentions, I think it goes against everything she stands for. To make matters worse, she profits off of her so-called selfless pursuits. It all seems very suspicious. The show’s “facts” from Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic seem like a bunch of he said/she said and, to me, it’s all bullsh*t.

3. Joe Exotic (Former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, main subject of “Tiger King”)

Source: Netflix

So…to recap: he’s manipulative, greedy, narcissistic, and all-around just ridiculous. He openly admitted to manipulating two vulnerable straight men to have sex with and marry him by preying on their substance abuse. He created horrible conditions for his employees to work in; the trailers provided for their lodging were disgusting and they made so little that some took expired meat from the Walmart trucks to eat for themselves.

He was obsessed with Carole Baskin and made horrific threats against her life (shot a doll that resembled her in the head, put venomous snakes in her mailbox, made lots of verbal threats, the list goes on and on). As the end of the series revealed, he shot and killed five tigers and Saff claims the number of murdered tigers is even higher. Joe bred and abused tiger cubs and profited off of their unfair treatment. Something that is not detailed in the series is that Joe did not actually make the music featured on the show. As Vanity Fair revealed, Joe stole the work of a songwriter and vocalist and passed it off as his own. It was heavily hinted in the series that Joe was the one who burned down his own recording studio and alligator house. Personally, I definitely think he did.

Last but certainly not least, regardless of if he was coaxed into doing it or not, Joe Exotic tried to hire someone to kill Carole Baskin. It baffles me that many people on social media want to see Joe exonerated. I think he’s exactly where he belongs.

2. Jeff Lowe (“Businessman,” 2nd owner of of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park)

Source: Netflix

Oh my God, I could go off for hours about how much I hate this man. He is truly the worst. To start, one of the first things he said in the series is “A little p*ssy gets you a lot of p*ssy.” He was referring to his usage of tiger cubs to lure women into having sex with him. This is obviously insulting to women and it shows that he has no remorse for literally stuffing tiger cubs into suitcases and dragging them around Las Vegas.

He treated his animals with no respect, just like he treated women. He’s constantly reducing women to their looks and sees them as sexual objects. In the last episode of the series, Lowe said the first thing his wife needed to do after giving BIRTH was “go back to the gym.” I mean, are you f*cking kidding me? He was especially horrible to women but he really treated everybody like sh*t. He was rude to everyone, even the innocent workers at the zoo. Lowe completely screwed over Tim Stark when he tried to open another zoo with him.

I think he definitely set up Joe to be caught for trying to murder Carole Baskin. He pretends to have an incredibly lucrative lifestyle but he’s lying to everyone and is drowning in debt. All the man cares about is money and sex and he doesn’t care who he hurts to get to both. He deserves to rot in jail right next to Joe Exotic.

1. Doc Antle (Owner of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species)

Source: Netflix

Of all the d*cks in this series, this man might be the worst one. He is manipulative, sick and greedy. I refuse to call him “Bhagavan” because I think his entire treatment of Eastern culture is cultural appropriation.

As seen in the series, Antle uses his entire sanctuary as a kind of cult. He lures women in with promises of a wild lifestyle with tigers. Once they’re trapped in his web, he holds sex over their heads as a way to move up in management. He manipulates them and uses them for sex. Not to mention the disgusting way he exploits them in their catsuits and tiny uniforms. He, like Jeff Lowe, objectifies women and uses them for his own benefit. He makes me so sick.

I think one of the saddest moments in the series is when the crew went to former Institute worker Barbara Fisher’s house and she detailed her horrid experience at Antle’s organization. She explained how the workers work almost all day, every day while not getting paid enough to pay for basic necessities. She shared that Antle made her get breast implants so that she would be more “sexy” for the park. Her account showcases the disgusting nature of Doc Antle.

Then there’s the way he treated his animals. It was heavily implied that Antle kills tiger cubs once they get too big. Joe Exotic furthered these suspicions when he claimed Antle murders tigers in gas chambers so that he can breed more. Once he breeds more, he sells the cubs to anyone who will buy them, including circuses and poorly managed zoos. PETA and other animal rights organizations have accused Antle of animal abuse for years but, somehow, his park is still running.

Source: GIPHY

Not everyone in “Tiger King” is inherently good or bad. In fact, there were a fair amount of people who were simply normal, like former G.W. Zoo manager John Reinke, former G.W. zookeeper Erik Cowie and reporter Sylvia Corkill.

Hopefully, this list will make you think twice before you praise Joe Exotic for being a “gay icon” or call a white man “Bhagavan.”

The Downfall of The Young Adult Film Genre

It happened swiftly and quietly, what was once a box office hit became a box office flop, leaving those who can remember wondering — what happened to those “Divergent” films?

Following the global success of “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”, studios ran to the nearest bookstore to find the next young adult series they could turn into a movie franchise. Out came, “The Hunger Games”, “Divergent” and “The Maze Runner.” They were making money, had massive fan bases and showed promise for a compelling franchise, but unfortunately as quickly as YA films came, they went. One series didn’t even properly wrap up.

It was “Divergent”, so if you’re wondering what happened to those films the answer is they never released the last film.

Was “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” a two-time miracle, or are there specific reasons for why the YA genre has all but disappeared.

Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

 Here’s a look at some potential explanations for what happened to YA films.

Too Much of the Same Thing

The films mentioned were not just picked because they were the biggest examples, but also because they showcase one of the biggest problems with YA films. It’s all the same. If you’ve seen all three films the similarities are painfully obvious, all three take place in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian world where the government is corrupt and it’s up to teenagers to save the day. Two of the films feature zombie-like creatures, and two of them feature a special group of people the government wants to weed out. Two films also have the government putting teenagers in a deadly simulated environment and watch them as they fight to survive. Once is good, twice is fine, three times is far too many to see the same concepts just with a few tweaks here and there. Originality always wins in the end, and these films lacked it.

Bad Reviews

In the age of social media, word of mouth and critic reviews can make or break a movie. Some YA films maintain good to average critical scores throughout their run, and others were just bad from the get go. 

Rotten Tomato Review Score

  • “The Hunger Games”: 84%
  • “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”: 90%
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”: 69%
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: 70%
  • “Divergent”: 42%
  • “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”: 28%
  • “The Divergent Series: Allegiant”: 11%
  • “The Maze Runner”: 65%
  • “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”: 46%
  • “Maze Runner: The Death Cure”: 43%

 YA films just have a bad reputation when it comes to reviews, audiences don’t want to see bad movies and studios don’t want to make them.

Poor Box Office

There are many driving forces towards making a movie, and the biggest is money. In times when Walt Disney Studios is making a few billion dollars a year, studios are aiming to make movies to compete and make them just as much (with the exception of horror and indie films). For a time YA films did just that, and then they didn’t.

YA Box Office Gross (Worldwide) via Box Office Mojo

  • “The Hunger Games”: $694,394,724
  • “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”: $865,011,746
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”: $753,356,711
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”: $658,344,137
  • “Divergent”: $288,885,818
  • “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”: $297,002,527
  • “The Divergent Series: Allegiant”: $179,246,868
  • “The Maze Runner”: $348,319,861
  • “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”: $312,296,056
  • “Maze Runner: The Death Cure”: $288,175,335

Why didn’t “Divergent” make the last film? It was because of the poor box office performance of “Allegiant”. Soon enough it was clear that YA films weren’t the big hits they used to be, truly marking the end of the genre.

There have been more attempts at YA films with “The Darkest Minds” and “Mortal Engines”, but unfortunately both films were critically panned and turned out to be major box office bombs. The YA genre may not work with film, but it’s certainly making its mark in TV with “Riverdale” and Netflix’s new show “Outer Banks.” Maybe YA does have a home after all.

Top 5 Best Breads to Bake

Baking is bittersweet. There’s always the risk of falling into the dangerous cycle of baking, eating and repeating. But, now that we’re all trapped inside, what better way to pass the time? 

Baking bread is highly underrated. Sure cake and pie are just as delicious, but during quarantine, bread is perfect for fulfilling your daily (and nightly) snack sessions. It also satisfies as a yummy breakfast. 

All recipe graphics by Kara Fields


Quarantining has been hard on everyone, so I hope this list of recipes makes it a little sweeter!

Sports movies to get you through quarantine

Living through a historically significant moment in time leads to losing a lot of spring normalcy like picnics, hikes, restaurant hopping, and a lot of sports. Everything seemingly started spiraling beginning with the NBA’s announcement that they would postpone the remainder of the season. First went basketball, then went baseball, hockey, soccer, and spring football. 

As mainstream sports were officially postponed for their seasons, sports fans all around the world turned for the more obscure, like virtual NASCAR events and even marble racing.  As crazy as it seems, watching some sort of sports helped bring a second of normalcy back into the season of social distancing. 


Illustration by Evelyn Garcia

For some more added normalcy to daily quarantine routines, here are some of the best good-feely sports movies to get you through the athletic drought. 

BASEBALL:

This is the first time since 1995, that Opening Day won’t go as scheduled, a fact that drove dads everywhere up a wall.  But, there’s no crying in baseball, so if you want to get all the fun of spring baseball without things such as… lovely weather, toasty nuts,  and a warm hot dog, then grab your favorite dad cap and watch the following. 

The Rookie

Where to Watch: Disney Plus

A heartwarming story about an unlikely re-entrance into the professional scene by a seemingly retired pitcher who keeps his love for the game alive by coaching his local highschool’s team.  It’s based on a true story and reminds us that even through sports, it’s never too late to continue your passions. 

Moneyball 

Where to Watch:  Rent on Amazon

If you miss the intensity of sports but also want to stare at Brad Pitt while he gets frustrated, then the true story of how statistics and analytics changed baseball is for you.  Jonah Hill plays a helpful ivy league grad alongside Brad Pitt’s GM role that helped the Oakland As succeed against financial odds.  

The Sandlot 

Where to Watch: Rent on Amazon

The epitome of feel good baseball movies comes in the form of the Sandlot. It’s a funny coming of age movie that follows scrappy kids just trying to play the game they love. It has everything, my first crush as a child (yes it was Benny – the ONLY Dodger I respect.) 

FOOTBALL:

While football is typically more of a fall and winter sport, the XFL was seemingly on track to change that as the up and coming spring football league. The key word being seemingly, as due to the current situation, the XFL has officially filed for bankruptcy. Along with some of the coolest spring football plays goes some of the best uniform design in the entire sport. So to make up for the fact that tears were shed when the bankruptcy announcement came, here’s some of the best football movies to fill that newly left void.  

Remember the Titans 

Where to watch: Disney+

If you went to a public school in the continental United States, the likelihood that you were forced to watch this movie in middle school is pretty high. Almost as high as the mountains in Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t no mountain high enough, wonderfully performed by the players in the locker room in a moment of team unity. It’s a great movie based on an even greater story of racial tension and ultimate triumph against some really hard odds.

The Longest Yard 

Where to watch: Hulu with Live TV

This movie has everything, jail football and adam sandler, need I say more? Its prisoners versus guards with only their pride and freedom on the line. A fun movie to watch if you’re in a lighthearted mood and want to watch grown men just absolutely tackle each other to the ground. Sprinkled in with some super fun cameos, this movie can do no wrong. 

SOCCER: 

A spring staple in a lot of households – the loss of soccer this season has been a disappointment to over enthusiastic parents everywhere  and a win for kids forced to play in their local club. As far as soccer movies go, some of the most notable include teen titles from the early 2000s. 

Bend it like Beckham 

Where to Watch: Hulu

Is this a thin veil to put one of the best early 2000s teen movies in this list? Yes, but hear me out. It’s a great movie about chasing your dreams and doing things alongside your best friend. And it qualifies since the dream being chased by the two british queens, Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra, is to become professional soccer players in America. 

She’s the Man 

Where to watch: Rent from Amazon 

Early 2000s queen Amanda Bynes stars in a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s the Twelfth Night. While there’s a lot of twists and turns that may or may not involve a young Channing Tatum, the overarching goal of being able to play the game she loves reigns supreme. 

MORE: 

Hockey – Miracle 

Where to Watch: Disney+

We don’t talk about the 1980 winter olympics enough as a society and I think that should change. Watch Miracle to relive the crazy true story about the US Men’s Hockey team composed of college athletes that faced off the Soviet team full of professional players. 

Bobsled Racing – Cool Runnings 

Where to Watch: Disney+ 

Loosely, and i mean VERY loosely based on the true story of the Jamacian Bobsled team, Cool Runnings retells it in a fun way full of fun outfits and a lot of funny moments. 

What To Play During Your Virtual Game Night

Most of us are now knee-deep into self-isolation and possibly going insane. Although it is extremely important to practice social distancing, it is equally as important to stay connected. Luckily technology today makes it easy to interact with friends virtually. Zoom has quickly become a saving grace. But zoom parties can get boring when all there is to talk about is what you ate for lunch, something cute your dog did and the funny meme you just saw on twitter. Liven up your next zoom meetup by making it a game night using these online party games:

Kahoot!

Photo Courtesy of Kahoot!

The game you dreaded in high school now has a new purpose. Kahoot is free, easy to use, and debatably has the best background music. Before your next zoom meeting, have each of your friends create a Kahoot quiz with questions about themselves. The host shares their screen showing the quiz questions and each player uses their phone to answer. It is the perfect game to see who knows you best.

Remote Insensitivity

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Remote Insensitivity is the virtual version of Cards Against Humanity you have been in need of. The free site allows you to share the game link with up to six players and synchronizes it to everyone’s devices. The creators, PlayCards.io, have other free games like checkers and go fish on their site and they also give the option to build your own custom game. 

Photo Roulette

Photo courtesy of PetaPixel

Here is another free trivia app that might get too personal. The Photo Roulette app is available for iOS and Andriod and allows up to 10 players per game. In each round, the app will select a photo randomly from one member’s camera roll and players compete to guess who the photo belongs to both quickly and accurately. Here’s to sharing embarrassing selfies and screenshots with your zoom party!

Quiplash

Photo courtesy of JackBox Games

This will quickly become your go-to game. Similar to Cards Against Humanity, the game provides prompts and the players write in their responses. The players then vote for the best response to the prompt. Quiplash and its crude humor would work perfectly as a drinking game. The game requires 3 to 8 players and is currently on sale for $4.99.

Drawful 2

Photo courtesy of JackBox Games

This elevated version of Pictionary will have you questioning any and all of your artistic abilities. Each player is given a quirky prompt to draw, then the other players try to guess what the picture is. Points are rewarded for guessing the picture correctly and for having a popular response. This is another game by Jackbox games and is on sale for $4.99.

Psych!

Photo courtesy of Psych!

This game was created by Ellen so you know its a good one. Play the “And The Truth Comes Out” deck for a personalized experience. In this game, each player answers a question about a different player. Once each person has submitted, all the responses are revealed and the players vote on their favorite. Since this game is mobile, it can also be played without a zoom meeting, but seeing your friends’ reactions is the best part.