Friday, March 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'Joe vs. Carole' - A Producer Sees Greatness at Joe's Zoo in 'A Gun-Toting, Animal-Loving, Mullet-Wearing Motherf... Star'

Peacock's Joe vs. Carole - Episode 1.04 "A Gun-Toting, Animal-Loving, Mullet-Wearing Motherf... Star"

Hoping to elevate his Internet presence, Joe hires a reality producer named Rick Kirkham. Joe's videos threaten Carole's legislative efforts. Joe, John and Travis begin an unconventional relationship.

"A Gun-Toting, Animal-Loving, Mullet-Wearing Motherf... Star" was written by Keli Goff and directed by Justin Tipping

Joe's current personality was shaped by the tragic death of his first husband, Brian. His life can easily be traced by how huge developments altered him. Animals brought him purpose after his failed suicide attempt. That allowed him to find love within himself and with Brian. His collection of wild animals grew. However, they never defined that relationship. Joe got the idea for the zoo when he was first with Brian. It's nice to hear that story despite how difficult it is. The storytelling reveals it as true love. It was a strong partnership. One where they responded differently to the discrimination they faced in Texas. They stayed because they couldn't imagine living anywhere else. They were proud of everything they achieved together. They were aspiring for more when Brian died. He was one from an entire generation of lost LGBTQ+ people. Joe doesn't reflect too frequently on those days. He lost people. He still carries that trauma. It's painful whenever he returns home from the hospital. That reminds him of losing Brian. He was pulled out of that depression by the animals. It was different that time though. It was him being adored for the first time by a crowd. He could chase that magic thanks to the animals. It was a unique skill he could bring to entertain. And so, he continually chased that high. Seeing the excitement animals bring to others is what fills his soul. It's very much driven by his own ego. He must protect the animals no matter what. They are an extension of him. He builds a family around the zoo. He is a caretaker to all of them. He pursues sexual dynamics with several of his employees. It's him providing a service. His relationship with Travis isn't all that different from what he has with John. It's a way for him to chase happiness. He is continually seeking to fill that void. He wants more. Part of it is the destruction of his livelihood thanks to Carole. He seethes with anger at all times. He can't go long in any conversation without bringing her name up. It's annoying when producer Rick Kirkham simply wants to create a show about the zoo. He can see the magic of this place and Joe's life story. That's good enough. The drama with Carole only endangers that. Joe can't let it go. He doesn't know how to process any emotions in a rational way. Instead, he opts for the biggest and most extravagant items he can get his hands on. It's a way to show his strength as determined by all that he owns. That includes multiple animals and two husbands.

Joe and Carole respond very differently to the spotlight being on them. Joe is always chasing fame. He's devastated when one of his workers needs to have her arm amputated after a tiger mauls her. He's told that footage will make him a star. It's a very cynical take on the world. It does offer narrative escalation despite murder already becoming a plot point in the conflict between Joe and Carole. That causes a lot of distress for Carole. She has been the face of a movement for awhile. She thrives in this environment. It's all in service to the animals. That compassion is real and palpable. She is now becoming the story. She is stealing attention away from them. Of course, animals need a voice for their own protection. They can't speak for themselves. Carole and Howard care. It's simply up to them to decide what sacrifices they are willing to make. The more prominent Carole becomes the more people will think she is also a killer. She tries her best to convince people it isn't true. It's not worth anyone delving deeper. The accusations continue to grow simply because people don't like her. They assume she is hiding something. No one can prove that. It's enough to taint her image. That prevents her from getting meetings with legislators who can actually do something on a grand scale to protect animals. That's her mission. She gets distracted. She feels everyone is talking about her. She is recognized in the grocery store. She makes a scene. She is banned for life. It's not a victorious celebration. She can't even keep her own advice of ignoring the story. She can't continue giving Joe what he wants. She can't keep playing his game. Accepting his terms prevents her from achieving her own ambitions. Her life is about so much more than Joe Exotic. And yet, she too is filling up with personal vitriol towards him. She sees him as a cockroach continuing to make her life difficult. He's the only big cat abuser she can focus on. He takes up so much energy. It's not even about the cats anymore. It's about the clash of their personalities and the need to vilify the other side as much as possible. Carole falls prey to those impulses just as much as Joe does. She has stability at home. It's comforting to have Howard by her side. He offers unconditional support. That's a loving and nurturing marriage. One that is also a blessing to see on the screen.