Dumb Money: Are Harmony and Riri Based on Real People?

Harmony Williams and Riri Paiseau’s joint experience makes up one of the several retail investor narratives the film ‘Dumb Money’ explores while simultaneously focusing on GameStop’s overarching journey through the stock market. The two young college students each have their mountainous debts that present them with the perfect incentive to invest in GameStop shares’ growing profits. As such, both characters portray a crucial aspect of the historical Short Squeeze’s real-life journey by bringing a youthful perceptive to the narrative.

In this dramatized retelling of a true story, a number of characters embody fictionalized counterparts of real people like Keith Gill or the hedge fund billionaires Gabe Plotkin and Ken Griffin. As such, Harmony and Riri’s character and their basis in reality are bound to capture the viewer’s similar interest. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Real-Life Inspiration Drawn From Harmony Murphy

Harmony and Riri aren’t based on real people. Nonetheless, their storyline, which remains entangled throughout the film, seems to take tangible inspiration from Harmony Murphy. According to TIME Magazine, Murphy participated in the film’s making through interviews with the filmmakers. As such, it’s fair to conclude that director Craig Gillespie, alongside screenplay writers Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker Blum, infused aspects of Murphy’s life with characters on the screen.

In particular, Harmony and Riri’s stories share notable beats with Murphy’s experiences. Even though Murphy is not a college student, like her fictionalized namesake, the mother of three similarly invested early in the GameStop stock. Therefore, Murphy ended up cashing in early despite the community’s “diamond hands” idea, i.e., hardened resolve to hold the stocks for as long as possible.

“I remember putting my head in my hands and bawling,” recalled Murphy when discussing her decision to sell, partially influenced by her brother’s advice. While the woman ended up buying back the stocks, the moment proved to be an immensely emotional point in her life. As such, Murphy went on to file a lawsuit against Robinhood, the company most Reddit investors involved with GameStop traded through, including herself.

As depicted in the film, Robinhood took away the buy option for GameStop, among other companies, leading to growing unfriendly sentiments from the general public. Murphy’s suit, which was filed on January 28, 2021, continues to remain pending. The woman took to social media about the development and shared a post on Instagram, where she described Robinhood’s practice as “outrageous.”

However, other than Harmony and Riri’s shared experience with Murphy regarding Robindhood’s sudden halt of trading for GameStop stocks, the characters barely have much in common with the latter. Perhaps the most glaring dissimilarity between them emerges from their different walks of life. Murphy is married to a man and parenting three children, while Harmony and Riri, who are dating each other, still live out of a college dorm that they share with a roommate.

Although these details work as points of distinction between Harmony, Riri, and Murphy, they bring a different relatability to the formers’ characters. Harmony and Riri’s exceptionally amateur endeavor into trading jumpstarted through GameStop, showcasing the influence the event had on the younger generation through its online relevance.

Therefore, through their unique perspective, engulfed in a college campus, Harmony and Riri bring a youthful addition to the film that proved essential to the real-life GameStop experience. Furthermore, their characters open up the story for a wide range of audiences, providing casual but meaningful representation. This aspect of their characters, detached from any particular real-life person or event, can be credited to the creative team behind the film. Thus, Harmony and Riri remain cemented in the world of fiction despite the inspiration they harvest from Harmony Murphy’s real-life experiences.

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