Tiger King is undoubtedly a cultural landmark. Its weirdness was serendipitous, coinciding with the weirdness of the start of COVID-19 lockdowns. For a moment, everyone was avoiding the bat virus through the batshit story of some exotic cat owners. We lost the office water cooler but found a new one in our homes—in the form of mustachioed little oddball and this lady who definitely killed her husband we agreed, right? When everything started getting bad, Tiger King was… not good exactly, but it was interesting. There are countless documentary pieces following crazy people and their crazy stories, but this one—to belabor the comparison—went viral.
Unfortunately, the waves of Joe Exotic’s mullet spread across television’s neck. Tiger King discourse aged about as well as a fidget spinner, a streaming zeitgeist so particular to the late spring of 2020 that the year’s lack of Halloween celebrations mercifully staved off what would have been an already embarrassingly dated flood of Exotic costumes. But that of course didn’t stop studios from trying to create their own Tiger Kings in the most literal ways possible.
Nicolas Cage signed on to a Tiger King series adaptation in the role of Joe, with Rob Lowe doing the same for a Ryan Murphy take. Kate McKinnon was quickly attached to play Carole Baskin in a third, entirely separate thing. Those haven’t yet turned up, and now it looks like Netflix is going to beat them to the punch with the real deal: a follow-up docuseries featuring the actual, already-wilder-than-fiction big cat people.
As seen in this new trailer for Tiger King 2, all the old gang is back—and Joe Exotic is still in prison. Now, like Facebook, the series is going meta, the subjects catching us up and going into how the original Tiger King‘s popularity affected their lives. Turns out, fame sometimes comes at a price. And that price includes loss of limbs, incarceration, murder charges, being publicly recognized as a grotesque human cartoon, and having to own and tend to a shit-ton of tigers.