It is a truth universally acknowledged that any hit television show or film must have at least five billion connections to the gospel. Whether they are Christ figures, clear pictures of what Jesus did for us on the cross, or simple, biblical life lessons your pastor can use in his sermons, every show has them if you look hard enough. Tiger King, the latest Netflix phenomenon, is no exception. It’s packed to the gills with gospel connections. In fact, it has more biblical references than it does tigers.
So, all you cool cats and kittens, we’ve chewed up the series and digested all its gospel themes and defecated out the following 9 nuggets of gospel truth for you:
1. Joe Exotic obviously represents Jesus. The tigers are like sheep and Joe is the shepherd, who calls them all by name. He also has like 3 or 4 husbands, a clear reference to the Trinity. And much like Jesus, he hired zoo workers (apostles) to take care of his sheep (tigers).
2. Tigers are sin: they start out small and cute but eventually, they get big and upkeep costs a ton. Also, they may maul you. Not to mention you have to shoot them when they get too old. This one's pretty obvious.
3. Joe Exotic's music videos represent the Psalms. Much as King David sat out in the fields all day and wrote songs about his sheep, Joe Exotic wrote beautiful spiritual songs about his tigers. "Here Kitty Kitty" is basically a modern-day Psalm 23.
4. Carole Baskin represents Satan. This one's easy. Satan talks a good game about wanting to rescue tigers and stuff, but then he feeds you to the tigers and puts a new guy on a leash. The analogy is pretty much flawless.
5. In addition to representing Satan, Carole also represents Jesus because she rescues the tigers from their bondage. Sometimes characters have two different gospel connections, and Carole pulls double-duty as a Satan figure and a Christ figure. Much as Jesus lovingly calls to us with His shepherd's voice, Carole sweetly calls her cool cats and kittens. (But also she is Satan).
6. The flames that engulfed the alligator house represent sanctification brought about by God’s refining fire. Many of us have reality show footage we've been holding onto and need to get rid of, so we need to identify the alligator houses of our lives and burn them to a crisp, even if it means taking out a few giant lizards.
7. The libertarian campaign manager reminds us of God's preferred political party. This was the show creators' subtle nod to remind us that Jesus is a libertarian, wanting none to violate the non-aggression principle but for all to embrace the idea of personal autonomy and also buy lots of gold.
8. Jeff Lowe redeemed the zoo and paid its debts, just like Jesus. If Jesus drank Monsters and wore Affliction shirts, He'd probably look quite a bit like Jeff Lowe, savior of the zoo. So Jeff is clearly the third Christ figure to show up in the series.
9. Reality show producer Rick Kirkham is the Apostle Paul. He made it his life's mission to tell the world the good news of the tiger king. Thanks, Rick!
Well, pastors, you're welcome to use all these references in your Sunday morning sermons. Bee subscribers, let us know which Tiger King gospel connections we missed in the comments! If you are too poor for a Bee subscription, just shout at your screen.