When scrolling through Netflix or Hulu, people are normally bombarded with an assortment of boring docuseries. “The Dropout,” however, is a rare exception.
Streaming on Hulu, this eight episode series stars Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes, a quirky, determined Stanford dropout who later becomes a criminal. Holmes, wanting to become a billionaire at any cost, began her company Theranos, which she later used to scam hundreds of people. The first three episodes of the series were released on Mar. 3, 2022, and then an additional episode was released each week after that until the docuseries ended on Apr. 7.
Seyfried was extremely convincing when it came to the role of Holmes, as she nailed her voice, demeanor and eccentric personality. In addition to Seyfried, “The Dropout” stars Naveen Andrews as Sunny Balwani and William H. Macy as Richard Fuisz. The entire cast does an exceptional job in their respective roles, but Seyfreid is definitely the main star.
Throughout the docuseries, the viewers get to learn about Holmes’ childhood and her struggles to fit in with her peers, while also flashing forward to Holme’s downfall back in 2017. During her in-show trial, when the attorney asks her a question about Theranos and her personal life, Seyfried answers the question and the show gives the audience the backstory of her answer. This framing device adds to the realness of the show, as it feels like the viewers are watching Holmes’ real life story. The phenomenal acting in the show also adds to its sincerity, especially with Seyfried, who did an excellent job with the role of Holmes.
“The Dropout” was inspired by a podcast hosted by Rebecca Jarvis. Because of this, most everything in the show is accurate and not extremely exaggerated. There are a couple small details, however, that are fictionalized for the show to be more entertaining. For example, in the docuseries, Holmes hires an in-house attorney for Theranos. This character does not exist in the podcast nor in Holmes’ real life, yet the addition enhances the drama in the show and helps explain the legal proceedings that happened in Holmes’ real life. Furthermore, since the attorney is not a main character of the show, her presence does not detract from its actual accuracy. On the other hand, there are some details that the viewers may think are fictionalized but are 100 percent true. For instance, in “The Dropout,” Holmes speaks in a strange deep voice, dresses like Steve Jobs and manages to trick multimillionaires and large corporations like Walgreens. This all seems unreal, but is completely accurate, which is what makes her story entertaining, binge worthy and unbelievable.
One aspect the series does a great job of introducing and explaining is the technology used in Theranos. Although the subject matter is extremely complicated, the writers use terminology and references that the audience can understand. The show succeeds in explaining the challenges engineers and scientists face when making the technology. Because these explanations are simplified, “The Dropout” is more entertaining than educational. The show would have lost many of their viewers if they consistently used extensive scientific terminology, and they did an excellent job of getting the point across without it.
“The Dropout” is highly recommended if you enjoy real life drama. The series only has eight episodes, so it is a show you can binge over a weekend and not get bored of watching. As of May 2022, Holmes was found guilty for defrauding investors and is currently awaiting sentencing while Belwani is currently in trial.