When the docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness first hit Netflix a year ago, viewers were riveted by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka “Joe Exotic,” the leopard print-wearing zookeeper with an affinity for exotic cats. Soon, viewers can get more of the eccentric “Tiger King” character with Joe Exotic, Peacock’s new limited series. It was initially slated for TV broadcast with NBC, but as of May 13, 2021, the show is now exclusive to the company’s streaming service. Here’s everything we know about Peacock’s Joe Exotic so far.
The Joe Exotic Plot
The drama series will be based on the Wondery podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King hosted by journalist Robert Moor. It goes deep into the beginnings of and rivalry between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, whom audiences met in the Netflix docuseries. When fellow cat-lover and Big Cat Rescue cofounder Baskin finds out that Exotic is breeding exotic cats for profit, she tries to shut down his operation. Unfortunately, she has an alleged dark past of her own, and Exotic attempts to expose her supposed hypocrisy. Dangerous felines, crimes, and two sort-of fashion icons — one in a mullet, one in a flower crown — facing off make this drama a must-watch.
Their real-life feud is still unfolding today, culminating in legal battles that Baskin seems to be winning. In January 2020, Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison for 17 counts of wildlife-related crimes and two counts of attempted murder-for-hire against Baskin. As of June 2020, Baskin also reportedly gained control of Exotic’s zoo from a trademark infringement case she sued him over.
Susan Rovner, chairman of entertainment content at NBC Universal Television and Streaming, reportedly said, “Joe Exotic is shaping up to be a bold and provocative drama.” Etan Frankel (Shameless) is writing and producing the show alongside Wondery’s Hernan Lopez, Marshall Lewy, and Aaron Hart. The first four episodes will be directed by Justin Tipping (Flatbush Misdemeanors).
The Joe Exotic Cast
In November 2019, Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon was cast as activist-slash-villain (depending on how you see it) Baskin. The Emmy-winning actress was the first name to be attached to the project.
John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) bagged the role of Joe Exotic in April 2021. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the Tony-award winner was apparently “thrilled” to play the “modern folk antihero,” adding, “Joe and I are the same age, and like him, I grew up queer in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, so I feel like I know a little bit about this guy and his desperate attempt to conquer an inhospitable world.”
Rounding out the cast are Nat Wolff (Palo Alto, Naked Brothers Band) and Sam Keeley (Misfits) as Exotic’s ex-husbands Travis Maldonado and John Finlay, respectively, and Brian Van Holt (Deputy) as zoo employee John Reinke. The most recent addition to the cast, announced on Thursday, June 3, 2021, is The Intruder star Dennis Quaid, who will play reality show producer Rick Kirkman.
Peacock’s new show is just one of the multiple projects based on the Tiger King’s life in the pipeline, including a Nicholas Cage version via Amazon, Surviving Joe Exotic via Animal Planet, and a rumored Ryan Murphy-Rob Lowe tandem.
The release date and trailer are yet to be announced, but this post will be updated as more details are released.