NBC Peacock’s new series “Joe vs. Carole” premiered today on the streaming service. Taking it’s cues from the real life conflict between “Tiger King” subjects Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, the mini series sports an all-star cast. John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch“) plays Exotic to Kate McKinnon‘s (“Saturday Night Live“) Baskin.
Early reviews have been…less than positive. But it almost feels like those critics didn’t know what to expect. This series almost makes these outrageous characters more normal, more like real people living real lives. Even though, yes, those lives include big cats and all kinds of legal embroilment.
Maybe the complaint is the portrayals here make Joe and Carole more…likable? More sympathetic? Certainly the seeming celebration of Joe as a gatherer and protector of misfits is on full display. And Carole’s rather unorthodox methods for protecting big cats.
Anyone familiar with “Tiger King” will recognize notable moments from the documentary, reimagined for dramatic retelling in “Joe vs Carole.” Doc Antle’s involvement with Exotic’s tiger breeding, familiar employees of Joe’s, and more personal scenes of Joe’s romantic partners.
Sure, this isn’t exactly highbrow fare. This isn’t Aaron Sorkin dialog, or Arthur Albert cinematography. Hell, this isn’t even “SNL” level screwball comedy. If anything, this is a more down to earth take on these…characters.
There isn’t really anything NEW here, either. If you know the story already, you know everything that’s gonna happen. That said, Mitchell and McKinnon absolutely disappear into these performances. You forget, often, that these are actors, not the real people they’re playing. They take these roles pretty seriously, no matter how ridiculous the situation or dialog.
So, if you watch “Joe vs Carole” for any reason, do it for the cast. You can catch all 8 episodes exclusively on Peacock now.