Netflix drops bonus "Tiger King And I" special with cast interviews with Joel McHale discussing the show's legacy, dream casting and much more.
What better way to celebrate Easter Sunday than with a return visit to the bonkers docuseries that has helped many get through these weeks of self-isolation. "Tiger King and I" is the long-awaited eighth "bonus" episode of the blockbuster "Tiger King" series, only it's more of an after-show than a fresh episode.
Hosted by Joel McHale and filmed over the past couple of weeks with many of the colorful personalities from the Netflix series, this new special was able to take a look at the aftermath of the incredible popularity of the show and how it's now impacting their lives.
Joel was also able to get their takes on the show, now that they've had a chance to see the final product, to see if it was a fair portrayal of what went on, or overly sensationalized, as some have tried to claim.
Unfortunately, neither Carole Baskin -- who has slammed the series as misrepresenting her and perpetuating rumors that she murdered her first husband -- and the titular Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic, participated in the new episode, but "Tiger King" was always more than just these two arch-rivals.
It would have never entertained viewers across seven hours without a full cast of interesting people, and many of them were more than happy to jump in front of a camera again, from the safety of their own homes (of course) amid ongoing coronavirus self-isolation mandates.
Joel was virtually joined by Erik Cowie, Joshua Dial, John Finlay, Rick Kirkham, Jeff and Lauren Lowe, John Reinke, and Kelci "Saff" Saffery, all of them having suddenly found themselves world-famous. It can be a bit jarring in a normal world, but is perhaps even more surreal amid a pandemic.
"I was walking through Walmart on a late-night run, should've only taken me ten minutes," said Saffrey, as reported by People. "I was stopped three times during a pandemic in Walmart."
They all share similar stories of being accosted by fans of the documentary, seeking selfies and autographs amid social-distancing guidelines. "I don't consider myself a celebrity. I think I'm just a man on a damn documentary," said Reinke. But at least for the time being, those two are one and the same as their 15 minutes of fame is experience a COVID-19 extension.
Of course, the most famous figures to come out of the docuseries are Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic, with neither looking particularly good by the time the final credits rolled. Nevertheless, Exotic's husband Dillon Passage -- who was also absent from this -- earlier described Joe as "ecstatic" by his newfound fame.
"This is the notoriety and fame that Joe always wanted. It's pretty ironic that he's now stuck in a cage and can't even enjoy it," said Jeff Lowe in the new special. Exotic has reportedly not even had a chance to see the documentary, so its unclear if his enthusiasm would wane upon seeing just why he's so famous right now.
Nevertheless, Dial says Exotic is connected to his fans through Facebook and is aware of money being raised on his behalf, as well as messages being sent to him. It's probably safe to bet he's even aware that a reporter asked President Trump about a potential pardon for him.
"He's in the loop on this and he's loving every minute of it. I guarantee that," Dial said.
One of the big criticisms about the series is how sensationalized much of it seems, with the larger-than-life characters almost seeming cartoonish and over-the-top at times. So just how accurate were those portrayals? Were these people really this outlandish, or was there some editing magic at work to make it look that way?
"The way they did this documentary, it's fair, balanced and I just think it's a wonderful production," said Dial, adding "The truth hurts."
But there was not a consensus that things were "fair and balanced," with Jeff Lowe saying he felt the docuseries was "sensationalized" in order to "give it a villain."
As for specific potrayals, Finlay was again adamant that he was unfairly presented. He's already gone public with lamentations that producers didn't bother to show updated footage of him after he got his teeth repaired.
"I was portrayed as a drugged-out hillbilly, and that was not me then," he said of the interview footage used in the show. "At that time, I was four to five years clean." He said he'd sobered up when his daughter was born.
As for why he was interviewed with his shirt off, which certainly helped sell the "drugged-out hillbilly" look, Finlay said he figured "why not show off" his ink. So he has to take some responsibility for the image he put out there.
It's too soon to say what -- if any -- legacy the production will have. Will it have a lasting impact in the world of exotic animals, or will it just be the coronavirus distraction we all enjoyed while in self-isolation, only to be forgotten when the world re-opens?
Kirkham is confident that the story of "Tiger King" will affect change in the world, even at a difficult cost to himself. "The one thing that I think that can come out of this docuseries that is good is that people are now going, 'free the animals,'" he said. "I think that's the best thing."
While he's expressed his regrets for associating with and following Exotic for so many years, Kirkham shared with McHale that his experience at Exotic's zoo has actually left him experiencing nightmares.
"And since this docuseries has been back, I've had more nightmares about having lived on that park," he said, revealing that he'd even had one the night before their interview. "I want to put this chapter away, but it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger."
Of course, one of the things that's been on everyone's lips since the docuseries dropped is who should, would and might portray all these people in a film or television live-action adaptation of their story. Exotic himself has suggested David Spade as a possibility, as well as Brad Pitt (ahem!). So what do the rest of the cast think?
Saffery went a little obscure, suggesting actor Brandon Baker, but Joel McHale had a better suggestion: his "Community" co-star and current "Masked Singer" judge Ken Jeong. Saffery was into that, calling it an "amazing" choice.
Reinke thought Matthew McConaughey would be a good choice for him, while Kirkham actually gave a fantastic suggestion for his own professional counterpart: Billy Bob Thornton. We're here for it!
"Tiger King and I" is now streaming on Netflix, along with the original seven-part "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" docuseries ... you know, if you've got any downtime today and want to know what absolutely everyone has been talking about.