Joe Exotic: Netflix’s Tiger King sequel is surely flogging a dead horse | Rebecca Nicholson

The first series was perfect on its own; the second seems to be about how much money everyone has made

There is usually something a little off about a true-crime sequel. It either seems to be an admission of failure, a recognition that the original series could not come to a satisfactory conclusion – and I have been suckered into enough lengthy podcasts that promise a big reveal only to end with a shrug of the shoulders and a “so who knows, it could have been anyone” – or it stands as an admission that the makers have agreed to wring more out of the story because the story was a hit, even if the material might not be there to back it up.

Joe Exotic’s story is far from dry, but it is being squeezed for every last drop. After being convicted of his role in plotting to kill Carole Baskin, Exotic, who is still in jail but never out of the headlines, will once again return to wider public consciousness in November, as Netflix prepares to release Tiger King 2. The official trailer for this true-crime saga arrived last week and it appears that the film-makers took one look at the original and thought perhaps they had not done enough with the murder for hire, black-market animal trading, drugs, politics and polyamory.

The Tiger King industry is a fertile one already. There were two Joe Exotic dramas in the works, potentially now down to one, after reports that the Nicolas Cage project was shelved. There was that excruciating “reunion” episode, too bad for me to watch to the end, the format of which seemed to be a tacit acknowledgement that this was more reality TV than documentary. Louis Theroux revisited the site of Exotic’s GW Zoo for the BBC this year, reasserting his position in a story that he had come across when he met Exotic 10 years ago, as a part of a film about America’s love of dangerous pets.

The contrast between Theroux’s understated approach and the throw-everything-at-it Tiger King-style was stark. Netflix got in touch with Theroux to warn him off, telling him that many participants were under exclusive contracts, another indication, maybe, that this story is purely for entertainment now.

The trailer for Tiger King 2 makes that more plain. It is blockbuster bombastic. To a soundtrack of Maybe This Time by Liza Minnelli, one of the most intensely dramatic songs ever and the centrepiece of a musical about the ascent of the Nazis, we see the familiar characters once again, talking about how much life has changed for them since the original series. What stands out most is how much money they have made.

The Beatles: Liverpool gets by with a little help from Rishi

A statue of the Beatles on Pier Head
A statue of the Beatles on Pier Head. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak’s budget announcement that £2m would be allocated to a waterfront Beatles attraction in Liverpool seemed to take its residents by surprise, who wondered whether the city needed another monument to their most famous musical sons. There are bus tours and walking tours. I have played drums to a video of Ringo at The Beatles Story at the Royal Albert Dock. I have posed next to a statue of John Lennon near the site of the Cavern Club. It’s like giving Stratford-upon-Avon cash for a statue of little-known playwright William Shakespeare.

The Liverpool Echo dug deeper, reporting that the money is going towards a “cutting-edge” tourist attraction that would entice people to the city and, while it will be “Beatles led”, it will celebrate Liverpool’s musical heritage as a whole. How unlike this government to aim for relevance and still come across as confusing and incompetent.

It is, at least, timely. The Beatles never go away, but there are periods of renewed interest and this is one of them. Paul McCartney’s almost-autobiography The Lyrics has been dropping crumbs, such as the claim that he, not John Lennon, wrote the opening to A Day in the Life. Peter Jackson’s three-part documentary Get Back polishes up hours of unseen footage from the Let it Be era. I may have spent much of the late 90s claiming to hate the Beatles, like any good indie kid did, but one of the benefits of getting older is that I can embrace my love for them and honestly I can’t wait.

Julianna Margulies: it’s called acting for good reason

Julianna Margulies
Julianna Margulies: ‘we’re all making assumptions as to who I am.’ Photograph: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Though I do not believe in guilty pleasures, I am starting to make an exception for Apple TV’s The Morning Show. After a strong first season, it has chucked its ultra-A-list stars into a tumble dryer and cannot seem to find the stop button. It has become an extravagant, extraordinary mess. Yet even as characters choose a new personality at random each week, I cannot stop watching it.

The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies, usually an indication of the best television, has joined the cast as news anchor Laura Peterson, who is a lesbian. Predictably, Margulies, who is married to a man, was asked to respond to the argument that the part should be played by an LGBTQ+ actor. “I can understand that,” Margulies said on the US show CBS Mornings. “My response would also be, we’re all making assumptions as to who I am and what my past is and what all of our pasts are.” As this debate continues to rumble on, surely Margulies makes a valid point: exactly how much should actors be required to reveal about their own lives in order to pretend to be someone else? I want to use my imagination when I watch television, not limit it.

• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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