Opinion: Tiger King Was Never Good, But We All Watched It Anyway

Amy Burke
May 18, 2020

COVID-19 has us stuck indoors staring out the window with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Unsurprisingly, the world’s media consumption has skyrocketed. With all this in mind, let’s look back on the Tiger King phenomenon – Netflix’s number one show for weeks straight, the dominating trend on social media, and the inspiration behind the inevitable Halloween costumes come October.

Here’s a controversial opinion in hindsight: it really wasn’t that great of a show. 

Yet the stats would certainly say that it is. So what made Tiger King explode in the way that it did?

Let’s think of the environment the series premiered in. In a time of the year where everyone is being told to stay indoors, average viewership trends are shifting.

 In the US and UK alone over 80% of consumers say they’re been consuming more content since the pandemic began. New content itself, however, hasn’t exactly surged in the same way. Sure, certain new movies originally planning to air in theaters have shifted to offer in-home alternatives, bored teenagers are no doubt increasing the influx of Tik Toks out there, and new shows do still make their debuts. But not quite at the rate that we’ve been needing it. Even certain musical artists are withholding new releases in light of the time. Perhaps most upsettingly for a lot of people out there, live sporting events are postponed and we have no March Madness, no Olympics, not even live golf to entertain us!

Streaming services have been our saving grace. With them, we can escape the depressing news and binge to our hearts’ delight. Services like Disney+, Hulu, HBO Go, and Netflix have of course seen a rise in subscribers as well. But Netflix, as we all know, is king of them all with its now 183 million customers worldwide.

Lucky for us, their content is bulked up and oh so bingeable (a particularly bitter shoutout to Hulu for only releasing new episodes of a show once a week…)

Even with our subscriptions though, it’s hardly guaranteed we’ll tune in. But lucky for Tiger King, it quickly became the talk of the quarantine among us bored and content-deprived individuals. And for perhaps the first time, celebrities are clearly just as bored as we are.

Everyone’s watching it because it’s what’s new, what’s available, and what everyone else seems to be talking about. That doesn’t necessarily make it a “good” show.

So while you absolutely got recommendations to add Tiger King to your queue – did you tune in because it was something you really had to watch or was it just to keep up to date with pop culture? Is Joe Exotic the new icon of 2020? And perhaps most importantly – did Carole Baskin kill her husband?

Some questions may never be answered.