Gaming Wall Street: On HBO’s Wall Street Bets Documentary and American Gambling

Set to debut Thursday, March 3rd. This HBO Max original documentary looks at last year’s short squeeze phenomenon.

A Wall Street Bets documentary has been made by HBO. Aptly titled: Gaming Wall Street. This HBO Max original series is narrated by Kieran Culkin of HBO’s Succession and takes a look at the historic 2021 short squeeze of GameStop, where a group of Reddit investors and self-proclaimed ‘apes’ (based on an internet meme) had made a bunch of money using the same exact tactics hedge funds are well known for using when gambling with other people’s, often million-and-billionaires, pools of money.

To be fair, last year, was a remarkably volatile (aka stupid)  year of investing. There was a lot of money to be made across the board due to historically low-interest rates, an abundance of stimulus money, and the promises of unfettered growth that never really came to fruition. 

From crypto to NFTs, and even a collapsed hedge fund called Tiger Mangement, which lost all trading options on the same company that makes South Park and MTV, there was a lot of money being moved around in 2021. Much of which ended up in the hands of billionaires, who’d sold large chunks of their positions in their own companies at the end of last year, such as Elon Musk and Satya Nadella.

In Warner Bros’ press release, director Tobias Deml had this to say:

“I wanted to create a compelling documentary about a niche online community which grew into the movement behind GameStop and momentarily shifted the balance of power on Wall Street. I saw a great need for access to education about investing. We have the opportunity to right a decades-old wrong created by powerful firms that have been gaming the system to the detriment of society. I hope that viewers will feel empowered to see themselves as investors and be part of a much-needed reform to Wall Street.”

 

Let me be clear from the get-go why I personally care and know about this topic: because I was accidentally a part of the Wall Street Bets fiasco too. Not intentionally. Because I had just invested in movie theatres thinking that they’d make a rebound from the pandemic, quite literally, weeks before the beginnings of what was to be the first WSB short squeezes. 

I was lucky. I was also smart, in that, having lost lots of money in my 20s in the market, I knew what was too good of a thing to be true and sold, making up for my losses from almost 10 years ago. Unfortunately, many still hold onto their shares of Gamestop and AMC dreaming of an overthrow of the rich that’ll more than likely: never happen. There was also an unprecedented amount of options trading, which is more or less, gambling, as they’re all-or-nothing trades that hold high payoffs if you can time it right (FYI: most people can’t time the market. Even hedge funds. They just have a lot more money to play with).

That said, this documentary is a thin slice into the world of this weird tale between retail and hedges. The part that I think most people don’t understand though, is that most Americans were sold on this promise that the money would run hot in a post-pandemic society. The beginnings of a Biden presidency of what we thought would be a return to civility and the hopes of a vaccine ending the pandemic—packaged, marketed, and sold on the promise of a roaring 20s—where covid was over. We would spent every moment like it would be our last, and life would be one giant celebration of the year that we’d make it.

A dream which didn’t fully happen… Though this documentary will highlight a bit of how that story got semi-started.

“Gaming Wall Street peels back the layers of one of the most talked-about news stories in 2021, revealing the systemic issues and underbelly of the financial world,” says Joanna Zwickel, SVP, Documentary Features and Series, Gunpowder & Sky. “It’s an honor to have this series live on HBO Max.”

 

 

 

Christian Angeles
Christian Angeleshttp://www.christianangeles.com
Christian Angeles is a screenwriter who likes sharing stories and getting to meet people. He also listens to words on the page via audible and tries to write in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone.

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