Tiger King, Netflix’s outrageous documentary series about warring exotic animal keepers in rural America, was watched by over 34 million viewers in its first 10 days on the streaming platform. As reported by Variety, the numbers come courtesy of Nielsen estimates for March 20-29, which tallied 34..3 unique viewers for the docuseries. That puts it right alongside Seasons 2 and 3 of Stranger Things, which drew 31.2 million and 36.3 million viewers respectively in the same time frame. All of those numbers add up to mean that Tiger King is one of Netflix’s most successful series to date.
In case you’ve somehow managed to totally avoid the internet for the past several weeks and haven’t heard of Tiger King, it’s a seven-part documentary series following Joe Exotic, a zookeeper and big cat breeder currently serving jail time after being convicted in a murder-for-hire plot against his professional and personal rival Carole Baskin, who runs a non-profit animal sanctuary and is trying to make private ownership of big cats illegal in the U.S. And that’s the least insane thing that happens. The series seemingly came out of nowhere with very little fanfare, only to spark an unexpected wildfire of word-of-mouth praise for the bizarre, circuitous story it tells.
Tiger King has received plenty of justifiable criticism (including some from Collider’s Dave Trumbore) for its exploitative, tabloid-journalism treatment of very serious subject matter, including several crimes against both human beings and endangered animals. But the docuseries weaves an undeniably captivating spell as one unbelievable layer after another is peeled back to reveal the wholly unpredictable series of events leading up to Exotic finally hiring someone to assassinate Baskin. Tiger King is currently streaming on Netflix.