SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: New Girl
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: Charming weirdo Jess Zooey Deschanel moves into a new apartment with three male roommates after a devastating break-up. It turns out that her new roomies played by Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris are also charming weirdos. Quirky friendship ensues and it is all very, very funny.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: On paper, there is literally nothing special about New Girl, which ran on Fox from 2011 through 2018. In fact, it sounds downright hacky and tired: a quirky girl has three male roommates?! What is this, 1972? But while that concept may be a tough pitch in an age where television comedy has grown increasingly experimental and daring, New Girl has something you cannot fake or manufacture: lead actors with undeniable, unmistakable chemistry that works no matter which combination of characters share the screen in a given scene.
Honestly, it was that basic concept that kept me away from New Girl for a long time, even as my significant other insisted I watch it. And damn it, they were right. Now that the entire series is finished and streaming on Netflix, I’m hooked. While I certainly would’ve been hooked during another time, the show feels especially right for this given moment. During a literal pandemic where I cannot see any of my real friends, being able to hang out with Jess and Nick and Schmidt and Winston and Cece has genuinely cleansing for the soul. Sure, they’re not my real friends, but they are close enough for now. The show’s agreeable tone and chilled-out, laid-back, friendly vibe makes them welcome visitors in your living room.
At this point during my first time through the series I just completed the first season as I write this, New Girl‘s greatest strength remains its cast, which elevates the weaker episodes while super-charging the more inspired entries. Deschanel, Johnson, Greenfield, Morris and Hannah Simone as Jess’ best friend and eventual member of the group are talented, funny folks in a vacuum, but when put in the same room, the electricity between all of them could power a dozen lesser sitcoms. It’s a triumph of casting, acting, and character development, the kind of lightning in a bottle ensemble that every comedy series wishes it could taste.
I imagine New Girl will have its highs and lows as I watch it. I imagine there will be the rough patches and inspired streaks. But I know these are my new television friends and right now, I treasure them....