“The Dropout” came to Hulu on March 3, offering an interpretation of the true story of Elizabeth Holmes, an ambitious businesswoman convicted of criminal fraud in 2018. Played by Amanda Seyfried, viewers see the story of Holmes’ rise to power unfold, beginning with her high school years and massive admiration for Silicon Valley figures like Steve Jobs.
With the help of a much older lover, Holmes starts Theranos, a healthcare technology company claiming to revolutionize blood testing. The idea? A way to have testing done at home, without more than a drop of blood needing to be extracted. Dropping out of Stanford her sophomore year in hopes of making her get-rich-quick dreams come true, Holmes talks her way into success, putting millions of patients at risk in the process.
The limited series created by Elizabeth Meriwether, creator of “New Girl,” offers a sympathetic, but simultaneously eerie look into Holmes’ life. It is evident that Holmes lives in and is victim to a misogynistic world, compelling viewers to root for her and her wild aspirations in a male-dominated field. Yet, there is also something utterly frightening about just how persistent she can get.
Unlike more recent shows chronicling con artists, such as “Inventing Anna,” “The Dropout” does a strong job of fleshing out the motives and backstory of Holmes. We see her not-so-silently judging her fellow students’ Mandarin at their exchange program and learn that she hails from a long line of entrepreneurs. We also see Holmes dive into a questionable relationship with a much older man, whilst battling a terse relationship with her mother. While most small details are just speculation on Meriwether’s part, they certainly make for an entertaining tale.
Moreover, it’s refreshing to see Seyfried on the screen again, especially in such an intense role. Seyfried does a great job passing as both an awkward teenager vying for investors and a fully-fleshed adult feigning confusion on the stand. Even the constant shifts in her voice indicate that Holmes is always putting on a front.
In real life, Holmes’ trial has just recently concluded, with the jury reaching a split verdict, finding her guilty of criminal fraud on four counts. Her business partner, Ramesh Balwani faces the same charges.
“The Dropout” is not the first attempt to unravel the mysterious figure. An ABC podcast of the same name has been following her case and in 2019, Alex Gibney released the documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.” While not entirely original in its pursuit of Holmes’ story, it is the only one to dramatize the tale.
Three episodes of “The Dropout” are currently available for streaming on Hulu, with weekly releases every Thursday until the eighth and final episode.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars