TV’s top documentarian, Louis Theroux has delved into the world of porn, crystal meth, eating disorders and dementia. But now the journalist is taking a look at something a little wilder, as he enters behind the scenes of Tiger King.
Theroux first met Joe Exotic ten years ago, while making the BBC documentary film America’s Most Dangerous Pets.
The documentary-series Tiger King was released on Netflix in March 2020 as the world entered into a global lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Tiger King followed the eccentric lives of big cat owners living and working in the United States.
Self-proclaimed ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, became the lead subject of the Netflix documentary. Exotic is the owner of 1200 lions, tigers and bears among other animals in a wildlife park in Oklahoma. He was later imprisoned for a murder-for-hire plot of Big Cat Rescue boss Carole Baskin and is currently serving 22 years in federal prison.
The bonkers story was the kind of escapism the world was looking for at that moment in time.
Some of Tiger King’s success can be accredited to the fact that hundreds of millions of people were quarantining in their homes and had nothing better to do than binge a new series on Netflix. However, according to Nielsen’s ratings, which is an audience measurement system, Tiger King was watched by 34.3 million viewers in the United States in 10 days.
Now the subject of Exotic and the world of Tiger King is about to become a new feature-length BBC special, made by journalisms finest, Louis Theroux.
On his Instagram account, Theroux posted a selfie of himself with Tiger King star Carole Baskin and her husband Howard Baskin with the caption: “Slowly ramping up publicity for new #bbctwo doc #ShootingJoeExotic.”
The documentary has the working title Louis Theroux: The Cult of Joe Exotic, and it plans to showcase a different side of the Tiger King standouts as real people involved in a real crime, not a bunch of caricatures from a hit Netflix true-crime documentary.
Theroux, whose successful journalistic career spans more than two decades, described himself in an article published by the Guardian as “a little bit of a tool”, but adds that the fact he came across awkward and sometimes “borderline rude”, may have been part of his gift.
Some of Theroux’s most impressive documentaries have secured him BAFTA awards and a dedicated fan base, with 2.2 million Twitter followers. Some of his most impressive documentaries include:
The City Addicted to Crystal Meth, as Theroux examines a community ravaged by the cheap and highly addictive drug crystal meth and the toll it has taken on several addicts in Fresno, California.
In 2007 Theroux travelled to Topeka, Kansas, where he filmed The Most Hated Family in America. The documentary gave viewers an inside look at the infamous Phelps family at the core of the Westboro Baptist Church, who picket the funerals of dead soldiers killed in Iraq as a protest against an America that tolerates homosexuality.
The Night in Question followed Theroux as he explored sexual assault on US college campuses. The documentary follows Yale student Saif Khan and his version of “the night in question” as he was accused of sexually assaulting another Yale student.
Love without Limits looks at the world of polyamorous love, as Theroux was exploring the movement seeking to rewrite the rulebook on how we view and conduct intimate relationships and experience family life.
And finally, one of Theroux’s masterpieces, Extreme Love: Dementia, is an in-depth exploration of autism and dementia.