“Tiger King” directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin are defending their hit Netflix series in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times following criticism lobbed at them from their documentary subject Carole Baskin. The wildlife conservationist at the center of “Tiger King” called the Netflix docuseries “salacious and sensational” in an interview with The Wrap last week. Baskin alleged that “Tiger King” producers approached her to do a wildlife documentary that was pitched to her as a big cat version of “Blackfish,” the 2013 documentary about the mistreatment of killer whales at Sea World. Baskin said she was shocked “Tiger King” instead partly focused on her husband’s 1997 disappearance case.
Goode and Chaiklin told the LA Times that Baskin “certainly wasn’t coerced” to appear on the Netflix series and openly talked about “her personal life, her childhood, her abuse from her first and second husband, and the disappearance of her ex, Don Lewis,” while participating in video interviews.
“She knew that this was not just about [big cats], it’s not a ‘Blackfish’ because of the things she spoke about,” Goode said. “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.”
Chaiklin added, “I would just say we were completely forthright with the characters. 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.”
Baskin told The Wrap last week that “there are no words for how disappointing” the version of “Tiger King” that debuted on Netflix turned out to be. The documentary tracks the rivalry between Baskin and fellow big cat lover Joe Exotic, who was found guilty of hiring a hitman to kill Baskin. The documentary leaves it open-ended as to whether or not Baskin played a part in her husband’s disappearance, which she told The Wrap is a “23-year old lie.”
“Tiger King” is now streaming on Netflix.