The Netflix series, which served as the guilty pleasure we didn't know we were missing and definitely needed for the early days of quarantine, placed a huge spotlight on the exotic-pet business Baskin is passionate about dismantling, opened the door to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like a gig on Dancing With the Stars and most importantly, helped Big Cat Rescue stay afloat during a pandemic that might have otherwise forced the sanctuary to shut down.
Granted, there are downsides to Baskin's newfound fame, she explained in an exclusive conversation on E!'s Daily Pop on Tuesday, Dec. 22. "The only negative impact has been people that can hide behind an email alias or people who would call me from, like, a burner phone and scream obscenities at me," the documentary star revealed. "And that went on for three months after the show came out."
Baskin added, "But fortunately...people see I am not the villain I was painted to be in Tiger King."
Tiger King follows the life of eccentric zoo owner Joe Exotic, who considered Baskin his arch-nemesis as she regularly and publicly accused him of abusing and exploiting wild animals. The rivalry led to a murder-for-hire plot, and now, Joe is serving out a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted of orchestrating said murder-for-hire plot against Baskin, in addition to violating several wildlife laws.
According to the animal rights activist, she worked with the documentary's producers for five years. "And what they told us they were doing was a Blackfish for big cats," she explained, referencing the 2013 film that examined the life of an orca held by SeaWorld and the controversy over captive killer whales.
"It changed the world in the way people thought about captive orcas and captive dolphins," Baskin continued. "So we thought this would change the world in the way people thought about tigers and that they would never go to these places to pay to pet the cubs after seeing what we thought we were working on."
What viewers got instead, Baskin added, was a "freak show."
"I'm glad it helped people through the pandemic, but it really missed the mark," she expressed.
But for better or worse, there's more Tiger King-esque content to come in the future—including a limited TV series with Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon playing none other than Baskin. The drama will air on NBC, Peacock and USA.
Baskin admitted that she was surprised about the casting choice. "She's a lot younger and prettier than I am, so I don't know what the reasoning was in choosing her," the Big Cat Rescue founder said. "But she's such a great person at impersonating caricatures, and I have been kind of a caricature, so I should be pretty easy for her to imitate."
Hear more from Carole Baskin, including the message she has for Joe Exotic, by watching the complete Daily Pop interview in the above clip.
Tiger King is streaming on Netflix.