The story of scammers: “The Dropout” draws back the curtain


Photo courtesy of Hulu

“The Dropout” is the newest eight-part docudrama about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the famed tech billionaire now convict. The series premiered on Hulu starting Mar. 3, with its final episode releasing on Mar. 31.

By Jeremy Chung, Assistant News Editor

Those caught up with current news should be familiar with the name Elizabeth Holmes, the former tech billionaire who wore signature turtlenecks, deep red lipstick, never blinked, had large blue eyes like a husky, and most notably, spoke in a low baritone voice. However, most news about her is her fall from grace. People can now watch Holmes’ true story in the new hit Hulu limited series “The Dropout.” 

Based on the famous ABC News Podcast with the same name, the nine-episode series chronicles a young ambitious Holmes (Amanda Seyfried), who, after dropping out of Stanford in her sophomore year, starts her biotech company Theranos. The company claimed that they were the future of medical research by using their blood-testing technology to detect diseases by only a few drops, making Holmes the first female tech billionaire. While it may have looked like Holmes had everything under control, on the inside, Theranos’ technology never worked, fooling investors and the world, which would eventually lead to the fraud investigation into Holmes and eventual conviction.

With the rise in popularity of so-called “grifter dramas” and scammer shows such as “Inventing Anna” and “WeCrashed,” “The Dropout” is one of those must-watch scammer shows. Holmes was recently convicted in January and will be sentenced in September 2022, possibly serving a maximum of 20 years in prison for four counts of fraud charges.

The show has a star-studded cast that showcases Holmes’ adventure as realistic as possible. Amanda Seyfried, who was notably in “Mamma Mia!” and “Mean Girls,” plays Holmes’ to the point where audiences can believe that Holmes is there herself. From the looks to how Holmes acts, Seyfried perfectly embodies Holmes by illustrating her deep desire to change the world along her weird and sociopathic side. Seyfried portrays Holmes’ bizarre obsession with Steve Jobs, such as wearing the signature turtlenecks, her cringy and awkward dancing while listening to music, quoting Yoda in front of a professor and fully capturing how Holmes got her fake baritone voice, which some say Holmes’ did to make her sound more authoritative in the male-dominant world of Silicon Valley. 

Other cast members include Dylan Minnette from “Thirteen Reasons Why” and actor Alan Ruck from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ and “Succession.” 

An exciting part of the show is how “The Dropout” dives into Holmes’ untold personal and social story, something many don’t know about and how these factors were why she was so overly ambitious and wanted to become a billionaire to prove everyone wrong. It references her overbearing mother and her father, who was laid off from his job at Enron after the former energy company declared bankruptcy due to a scandal (sounds familiar, right).

Something many don’t initially realize but later appreciate are the many Y2K throwbacks “The Dropout” adds. It starts with the numerous mid-2000s music choices like “I’m In A Hurry” by Alabama and “We Run This” by Missy Elliot, songs Elizabeth awkwardly dances to.  Throwbacks also include cultural artifacts, such as the original iPod Shuffle, all the way to the advent of the first-ever iPhone and a Prius, something Holmes is mesmerized by. What will also trigger nostalgia for viewers is how Uber was initially called Ubercab and seeing the multiple characters on their clunky phones playing Angry Birds. As viewers watch episode by episode, it’s hard not to remember the fond trends as the years progress in the series.

Many viewers are disappointed by how the show tries to humanize Holmes and create a sense of empathy for her. In many instances, the producers want viewers to think that Holmes was controlled by some board members and most notably, Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews), Holmes’ longtime boyfriend and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Theranos. The latter also terrorized many Theranos employees during his reign. Most viewers believe that Holmes should not be victimized here and that the patients Theranos was testing on are the real victims in this situation.

Overall, “The Dropout” is an excellent grifter drama that will keep audiences at the edge of their seats. The limited series makes for a very informative insight into one of the most notorious con artists in the world, which will surely keep viewers glued to their screens episode by episode.