TV | November 2, 2021 11:28 am

Carole Baskin’s Lawsuit Is Proof That “Tiger King 2” Is a Desperate Cash Grab

The Big Cat Rescue founder is suing Netflix for breach of contract

Carole Baskin attends the Los Angeles theatrical premiere of "The Conservation Game" on August 28, 2021 in Santa Monica, California.
Carole Baskin attends the Los Angeles theatrical premiere of "The Conservation Game" on August 28, 2021 in Santa Monica, California.
Getty Images for NightFly Entertainment

Tiger King 2 is slated to drop on Netflix later this month, and there are at least two people who aren’t thrilled about the sequel. Carole Baskin and her husband Howard have reportedly filed a lawsuit against Netflix for breach of contract, claiming they never agreed to appear in the second season and that old footage of them left over from the first season is being used without their permission.

“The Baskins believed that any sequel — though odious — would not include any of their footage,” a spokesman for the couple said.

 “By utilizing the film footage of the Baskins and Big Cat Rescue secured by Royal Goode Productions under the Appearance Releases in ‘sizzle reels’ and promotional trailers for the sequel entitled Tiger King 2, the defendants are in breach of the terms of the Appearance Releases,” the lawsuit reads.

The Baskins also take issue with the way they were portrayed in the show’s salacious first season. (Anyone who has seen Tiger King will surely understand why; the show essentially implies that Baskin murdered her former husband, Don Lewis.)

“The Tiger King 1 series wrongly attempted to suggest that Big Cat Rescue abused its animals by keeping them in very small cages while not making clear that the animals actually reside in expansive enclosures,” the lawsuit claims. “Perhaps most pernicious is the overarching implication in Tiger King 1 that Carole Baskin was involved in the disappearance of her first husband in 1997.”

This entire dispute is proof that the show’s second season is nothing more than a desperate cash grab. The fact that Netflix is recycling old footage of the Baskins and presenting it as new (at least in the trailer) to lure in viewers doesn’t bode well for what’s sure to be a cobbled-together sequel. The streaming service knows that there’s no way a second installment could possibly be as entertaining as the first; Joe Exotic is still in prison, meaning his appearances in the second season are limited to archival footage and jailhouse phone calls, and with the Baskins unwilling to play ball, they’ve essentially lost their two main characters.

Zookeeper Erik Cowie, another fan favorite from the first season, died of “acute and chronic alcohol use” on Sept. 3. The zoo at the center of the show’s first season isn’t even operating anymore. It was shut down last summer, with the provision that the property can’t be used for a zoo for 100 years. Why, then, is Netflix trying to make us care about a story that has very obviously reached its natural conclusion?

The streaming service is clearly aware that fans won’t be as invested in the stories of tertiary characters like Jeff and Lauren Lowe, and they know that they’ve got to get Baskin and Exotic in there as much as they possibly can, even if it’s by shoehorning in old footage. Tiger King 2 probably doesn’t even need to exist at all, but it’s a transparent attempt by Netflix to milk the success of the first season for all it’s worth.