Netflix’s new docuseries sensation Tiger King is not especially kind to any of its participants—including, many have argued, the big cats whose welfare (or lack thereof) it ostensibly exists to interrogate. Almost everyone who appears on camera is presented as some flavor of eccentric weirdo, with the majority of that attention being placed (understandably) on the excessive and bizarre life of renegade zoo keeper/current prison inmate Joe Exotic. But while Exotic is the main event, the series also points a healthy heaping of suspicion and implied scorn on the object of his attempted murder-for-hire scheme, Florida sanctuary operator Carole Baskin. The show spends a whole episode on rumors—propagated by Exotic, a man who hated her so much he tried to hire people to kill her—that Baskin murdered her second husband and then fed him to her tigers. It also layers on multiple suggestions that her Big Cat Rescue is no better than the private zoos she crusades against, showing what appears to be large cats in cramped conditions in the 67-acre facility.
You will be shocked to learn, then, that Carole Baskin is not a fan of the series
That’s per an interview she gave this week to the Tampa Bay Times, the first since achieving unwanted internet memehood after Tiger King released last month. Baskin says she feels “betrayed” by the producers, claiming—as she did in a statement issued shortly after the series dropped—that she had been told that all the admittedly intense and fascinating details of her life that she talked about on camera were intended to be used as background for a documentary far more focused on, well, the cats. She also takes special exception to the above-mentioned shot of her talking to the camera in front of a lion who’s apparently in a too-small enclosure, claiming that the animal was actually voluntarily in a narrow feeding chute that’s part of a much larger environment. (Not for nothing, but that same shot, visible as the header on this article, is the only picture of Baskin available on Netflix’s press site for the show.)
But most of all, Baskin seems pissed off that the takeaway from the series has been, not on increased focus on the welfare of animals, but on turning her into memes. (And flying drones over her house. And prank calling her. And hanging out outside her currently closed-to-the-public sanctuary to take pictures of her. It doesn’t sound fun.) Here she is addressing the viewers of the show: “They saw those cubs being dragged away from their mother. Where are those memes? Where are those comments?”
Tiger King returns for a single-episode after-show on Netflix tomorrow. Carole Baskin reportedly declined to be involved.