#FIRSTLOOK: “JOE VS. CAROLE”
By Mr. Will Wong
Following the global phenomenon that was Netflix Docu-Series TIGER KING, comes Limited Series JOE VS. CAROLE, based on the second season of the Podcast OVER MY DEAD BODY by Robert Moor and Matthew Shaer. The adaptation gives us eight episodes of the purrrocious back-and-forth between Joe Exotic (John Cameron Mitchell) and Carole Baskin (Kate McKinnon) that we were so obsessed with in 2020.
The Series, directed by Justin Tipping (Kicks), recounts how the drama began between Exotic and Baskin. The former is introduced as larger-than-life and attention-hungry, willing to do just about anything to keep his G.W. Zoo afloat, including subbing a sick cat with a spray-painted sheep. The far more reserved Baskin however, is onto him and out to take him and other cat traders at large, down. Exotic however, won’t go down without a fight and the Series explores the tensions between both, leading to his plotting of her murder, landing him in jail eventually. Along the way, we explore their troubled pasts and relationships, including Exotic‘s troubled relationship with the lovers John Finlay (Sam Keeley) and Travis Maldonado (Natt Wolff). We also get a more intimate glimpse of Baskin‘s world including her relationship with her daughter Jamie (Marlo Kelly) and husband Howard (Kyle MacLachlan), and what ignited the fire in her to upset Exotic to murderous rage.
Part of the challenge of re-telling a story that was just recently in the collective conscience, is that we find ourselves looking for things we didn’t already know. To be honest, with this drama being so widely talked-about, the Series which we were so stoked about initially, actually feels a bit redundant. This is not to take away anything from the superb work from John Cameron Mitchell who is just mesmerizing as Exotic. A role like this is no easy task, being unhinged and unapologetic but still captivating enough to keep our interest. If anything, JOE VS. CAROLE does give us a more sympathetic view of Baskin. McKinnon grounds her with empathy and while I’m sure many of us knowing her comedic chops, were expecting this portrayal to be a bit ‘loopier’, based on how our perceptions of Baskin were shaped by the Netflix Docu-Series. I admit it, I was Team Tiger King. Baskin should rest well knowing that McKinnon allows her to have a final say. Dare I say, you wouldn’t think she could’ve been responsible for Don Lewis’ disappearance after watching this?
The Series premieres in Canada on Showcase March 23, 2022 at 9 PM ET and will be available to stream on STACKTV and the Global App.