Eat The Rich: The GameStop Saga is a 3-part docuseries, directed by Theo Love, that takes a funny look at all of the factors that pumped the stock of GameStop, the failing brick-and-mortar video game store to stratospheric heights in the early months of 2021. Yes, it’s been almost 2 years since most of that went down, but what happened to GameStop may be a glimpse of how people will invest in the near future.
Opening Shot: A green line representing a stock price turns into an EKG line. Then we hear the voice of Jim Cramer talking about how he was laid up after back surgery when the buzz about GameStop started.
The Gist: Through interviews with hedge fund managers, pundits like Cramer and a number of retail investors that found out about the stock from a Reddit group called WallStreetBets and a YouTuber nicknamed “Roaring Kitty”, combined with various screenshots of memes and other online discourse, the story of how GameStop went from being traded at $5/share and short sold by every major hedge fund to being worth hundreds of dollars per share in a matter of weeks.
Like in the Hulu doc GameStopped, Love takes time to explain just what short sales are, which have to do with hedge funds borrowing shares and selling them at discounted prices, hoping the stock falls enough that they can buy the shares back at a lower price and make a profit. GameStop, which was suffering as a business for years, was a major short sell candidate. That is, until Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen started buying up shares in an attempt to turn the company around.
Then WallStreetBets and Roaring Kitty got wind of it, which set off an organized buying frenzy from retail investors, via the fee-free app Robinhood. The reasons behind the buying spree were to make money, sure, but it didn’t hurt that it put big firms like Citadel, Point72 and Melvin Capital in a position called a “short squeeze,” where they’re forced to buy stock at higher prices in order to stem losses.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Like we said, the content of Eat The Rich is virtually identical to GameStopped, which was produced while GameStop stock was still in the triple digits per share (it’s currently trading in the mid-$20 range). If you’re still craving more about memestocks, there’s also GameStop: Rise of the Players on Hulu.
Our Take: Eat The Rich: The GameStop Saga doesn’t necessarily take a more in-depth approach to the GameStop story than the aforementioned GameStopped did, but it certainly covers its ground with a lot more of a sense of humor than the previous documentary did. It’s also got the advantage of time, giving a more complete picture of how the stock shot up, cratered when trading on Robinhood was temporarily stopped, then went up again.
This docuseries takes some time to ramp up the story, because it understandably needs to explain the current world of retail trading, Reddit and other online aspects of the investing community that will be foreign to anyone who hasn’t bought or sold individual stocks since E-Trade came out (raises hand). Taylor Lorenz, the Washington Post reporter who has become the MSM go-to about living online in the 2020s, does a good job explaining just how this large group of traders managed to organize themselves and send the price of the stock so high.
What we hope to see in this series is what we just mentioned, which is the perspective of time, and how the stock managed to stabilize at a more realistic but healthy valuation, and what if anything the major investors want to do with a company whose business model hasn’t been current since the 2000s. But we also want to see a further examination of just how this kind of organized stock buying spree by “the little guy” will likely repeat itself as time goes on.
Much of the first ten minutes or so of the first episode talks about the 2008 Great Recession and how it extended the already wide gulf between the one percent and the struggling middle class, and it sets up the scenario where retail investors are going to see stocks they feel are undervalued and pump up their value. If these people make money while screwing the hedge funds, all the better.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: Roaring Kitty is in a video with the stock page of GameStop in the background. He has a cigar in his mouth. “Tick… tock,” he says while laughing.
Sleeper Star: We’ll give this to Mikey, Derik and Rachel, three GameStop investors who love to bust each other’s balls.
Most Pilot-y Line: We know that Love wanted to recreate the experience of seeing all the memes on r/wallstreetbets, but it really became distracting after awhile.
Our Call: STREAM IT. If you followed the GameStop story or saw GameStopped, the information in Eat The Rich: The GameStop Saga will probably be familiar to you. But it’s presented in an entertaining way and also has a more complete picture of the stock’s ups and downs.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.