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What to Watch After ‘Tiger King’
As the credits roll on Tiger King (set to Joe Exotic’s now-classic “I Saw a Tiger,” of course), a quiet calm sets in. There’s just so much to process after viewing all seven episodes of Netflix’s truly bonkers documentary series—the polygamy, the ligers, that jet ski scene. It’s a lot to take in.
But after spending hours engrossed in the wall-to-wall absurdity of the American big cat community, it’s kind of tough to go back to watching normal shows about rational people doing understandable things. The only appropriate follow-ups to Tiger King are documentaries that also tell stories that are way stranger than anything in fiction. Here are 10 contenders.
Everyone knows the McDonald’s Monopoly game, which has long promised players the chance to win cars, boats, and even the ultra-rare $1 million top prize. But for years, almost none of the big ticket prizes were honestly won, after a fraudster on the inside devised a mob-aided scheme to sell off the winning tokens. This six-part HBO documentary dives deep into the shocking and character-filled tale.
Co-director David Farrier is a New Zealand journalist, and this film documents his efforts at following one wild story. After stumbling upon the strange and kind of creepy world of “competitive endurance tickling,” he went on the hunt for the owner of Jane O’Brien Media, the company that produced the bizarre tickle-fest videos—and discovered a web of coercion and blackmail.
Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017)
In 2015, the body of Dee Dee Blanchard was discovered in her Missouri home. But her daughter Gypsy Rose, who was believed to be severely physically and intellectually disabled, was missing. If you’ve seen Hulu’s The Act, you’re familiar with this sad and strange story of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and murder, but even if so, this documentary is worth a watch.
Three Identical Strangers (2018)
We’ve all heard stories of twins who were separated at birth, only to serendipitously meet their mirror images in adulthood. But Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran aren’t twins—they’re triplets, and were all adopted by different unsuspecting families after their birth in 1961. But theirs wasn’t a normal adoption, and the film that begins with a heart-warming reunion quickly becomes a disturbing mystery.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
There’s no better way to indulge in some schadenfreude than to take a deep dive into the wild and yet relatively low-stakes story of Fyre Festival, the 2017 music festival that was supposed to offer a weekend of fun in the sun with Bella Hadid and Blink-182, but instead took a turn into a high-priced Lord of the Flies.
Evil Genius (2018)
In 2003, Pennsylvania pizza delivery man Brian Wells robbed a bank, warning the teller that the device cuffed to his neck was a bomb. After a standoff with police, the device went off, killing him. Found with his body were complicated instructions that suggested the robbery and bombing was part of a twisted scavenger hunt. This Netflix documentary unravels the mystery, and tells the story of the many conspirators who devised the murder plot.
The Queen of Versaille (2012)
David and Jackie Siegel had a simple dream: They wanted to build the largest house in America, and modeled their dream home on the Palace of Versailles. Then, the 2008 crash hit. This often hilarious documentary follows the ultra-rich family as they attempt to tighten their belts as they experience a small taste of the misfortune that so many American families endured in 2008.
Holy Hell (2016)
You may have picked up on some slightly cult-y vibes from some of the big cat aficionados in Tiger King, and if you want to take your viewing in that direction there are plenty of docs to choose from. This one tells the story of the Buddhafield, a little-known group centered around a speedo-wearing guru who cultivated a following of attractive young people—some of whom now say he sexually abused them.
Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)
Non-family child abduction is a thankfully rare crime, but one so horrifying that survivors like Elizabeth Smart often earn a permanent place in American cultural memory. Jan Broberg is another survivor, and she was kidnapped not once, but twice, by a manipulative predator who wooed both of her parents in order to gain access to her. In this documentary, she and her family share the at-turns horrifying and infuriating story.
Wild Wild Country (2018)
Before Tiger King, the Netflix true crime documentary series that absolutely everyone was talking about was Wild Wild Country, which tells the story of guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his guileful number two Ma Anand Sheela, who built a religious community in 1980s Oregon and launched a series of bioterror attacks.
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.