No one should waste their time with season two of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, And Madness. Netflix’s vacuous docuseries riveted viewers upon its March 2020 debut—chalk it up to early quarantine boredom—but it garnered more eyeballs than it deserved. Still, its early popularity drove the production of a second season, which centers on how the series’ subjects deal with sudden global fame. But Tiger King 2 has even less to offer than its predecessor.
For anyone familiar with the mostly insipid central cast, it won’t be surprising to learn that their egos and confidence have skyrocketed. The first episode of season two is dedicated to the efforts of Joe Exotic’s lawyers and supporters to get him pardoned by President Trump. There’s even footage of them at the Capitol Hill insurrection being booed by, of all people, Trump fans. Tiger King 2 is an uneven, pointless reminder of the start of the pandemic in the U.S. (when the show was binge-watched) and one of the country’s most shameful incidents’ in recent years. It’s a ridiculous double whammy.
The remaining episodes include the audio of Joe Exotic’s interviews from prison, but the focus veers away from him. Episodes two and three feel like they belong in a whole other true-crime docuseries, one about the disappearance of Carole Baskin’s husband, Don Lewis. Season one theorized Baskin might be involved in Lewis’ death, a narrative that resulted in the hardcore Exotic fans almost excusing an alleged plot to kill her.
Season two doesn’t address the negativity hurled toward Baskin in this regard. She didn’t even sit down for new interviews for the show; filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin use previous clips and other publicly available footage, and try to shift the perspective by following the renewed investigation into her first husband’s possible Costa Rica whereabouts. But everyone besides Lewis’ family dramatizes the situation for selfish reasons. There’s even a cameo from “psychic detective” Troy Griffin, who breaks down in tears at the place he claims to sense the man was killed. Lewis’ daughter, Donna Pettis, ends up comforting him. The whole thing reeks of inauthenticity.
The rest of Tiger King 2 is a takedown of Jeff Lowe, Exotic’s former partner who inherited his Oklahoma zoo after his incarceration, and Lowe’s new teammate and fellow zookeeper, Tim Stark. Both of these volatile men get a ton of screen time to display their machismo and ineptness in caring for animals. So, nothing too different from season one.
Lowe and his partner, Lauren, boast about having a code that alerts them when a “good-looking woman” guest or staffer is present so they can try to rope her into a threesome. Stark blames the media for his and the zoo’s downfall, so he often resorts to yelling at reporters—including throwing expletives at women journalists—and even directly threatens the Tiger King filmmakers.
It’s hard to sympathize with anyone on the show, or care for how they’re dealing with problems they’ve clearly brought on themselves. Tiger King 2 doesn’t provide any answers or real criticism. It simply reflects the monstrous attitudes of its subjects, continuing to glorify—inadvertently or not—people involved in animal cruelty. The second season does try to drill down on how Exotic, Lowe, and Stark mistreated the four-legged creatures under their care. But since all three men are already under investigation and public scrutiny for their crimes, it just feels redundant. Tiger King’s first season had no real value, but somehow, the second manages to be even more bereft.