Tiger King star Carole Baskin and her husband, Howard Baskin, are suing Netflix and the production company behind the show for using footage of them in the upcoming second season. Baskin made it very clear she was not happy with how the first season of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness turned out, recently calling the first season a "reality show dumpster fire." In the new lawsuit, the Baskins said they only agreed to appear in the first season.
The Baskins named Netflix and Royal Goode Productions as defendants in the suit, filed in Tampa, reports Variety. They accused them of breach of contract, arguing that their release forms only covered the first season. Netflix has not commented on the litigation, which includes a list of the reasons why Baskin was not happy with the first Tiger King season. She and her husband are demanding Netflix cut them out of the second season.
"Understanding that the Appearance Releases limited Royal Goode Productions' use of the footage of the Baskins and Big Cat Rescue to the single, initial documentary motion picture, the Baskins believed that any sequel - though odious - would not include any of their footage," the lawsuit reads. "The Appearance Releases limited Royal Goode Productions' right to use film footage of the Baskins to 'a documentary motion picture.'"
"Throughout the Appearance Releases there is only reference to and mention of 'the Picture,'" the lawsuit continued. "No mention is made of granting Royal Goode Production sequel rights, rights to create derivative works from 'the Picture' or additional seasons or episodes. 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 also lists many of the issues Baskin had with the first season. As she has previously stated in many interviews over the past year, Baskin said she agreed to participate because she thought the documentary would be similar to Blackfish and would expose the big cat trade in the U.S. Instead, the show centered on the tabloid-style story of her rival, Joe Exotic, who is now in prison for animal abuse charges and attempting to hire a hitman to kill Baskin. One episode of Tiger King also centered on Exotic's conspiracy theory that Baskin killed her second husband, Don Lewis, who went missing in 1997 and was declared legally dead in 2002. Baskin has never been charged with a crime related to Lewis' disappearance.
"'Tiger King 1 was particularly harsh and unfair in its depiction of the Baskins and Big Cat Rescue. 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," Baskin's lawsuit reads. The Baskins also claimed the first season of Tiger King "incorrectly" suggested their Big Cat Rescue is similar to the zoo Exotic ran in Oklahoma.
Netflix plans to release Tiger King 2 on Nov. 17, over a year after the original series was released. When Tiger King 1 hit Netflix in March 2020, the series became a surprise smash hit during the first days of the coronavirus pandemic. Although Baskin disavowed the project, she embraced her newfound fame, even appearing on Dancing With the Stars.