• Nate Adams

'The Dropout' review: Amanda Seyfried is impeccable playing disgraced Theranos founder


Courtesy of Hulu

 

Between “Super Pumped” over at Showtime about the rise and fall of Uber and the forthcoming “WeCrashed” about WeWork's inevitable demise, here comes Hulu’s “The Dropout” to try and set the record straight on Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes, who was awarded the presidential medal of freedom at one point by then President Barack Obama, is a fascinating nut to crack, a Stanford drop-out who defied all types of odds in the early-to-late 2000s to jumpstart her own business. The series explores the rise and fall of Holmes and the gender hurdles she had to climb and Amanda Seyfried is aces from top-to-bottom, nailing the vocal cadence and posture.


But just as quickly as Holmes opened the door and made headlines for being one of only a handful of female CEO’s in a generally male dominated environment, her company told a different story. A relentless hustler and pitch expert, Holmes started Theranos with the intent of helping people discover severe illness and/or cancer prognosis with a prick of the finger and tiny droplets of blood. On paper, the machine was a terrific idea and a major step in medical innovation but one that unfortunately never came to fruition. “The Dropout” explores how Holmes was able to dupe high profile bidders, including the brass at Walgreens who planned on putting Therenos machines in all of their stores, to funnel obscene amounts of cash into a failed product. It’s truly quite remarkable.


Seyfried plays Holmes throughout each faction of her life: early high school to college freshmen to full fledged business-woman and it stands among some of her best work. Watching her get inside the mindset of Holmes made it easy to come back for subsequent episodes. Not to mention trying to unravel how she manipulated revenue numbers, conducted illegal field tests on cancer patients, and her power grip on wealthy politicians and lawyers. The cast is rounded out with a solid ensemble of character performers who make up the minor roles: Laurie Metcalf, William H Macy, Stephen Fry, Kurtwood Smith, Bill Irwin, Sam Waterston, Anne Archer, and finally Naveen Andrews who showcases several aggressive layers playing Holmes’ multi-millionaire boyfriend Sunny Balwani.


“The Dropout” arrives at a good time for those hopping off the “Inventing Anna” bandwagon, but unlike that campy C-level drama which didn’t have much worth chatting about aside from Julie Garner, “The Dropout” has all the ingredients in its favor: style, substance, solid performances, and an irresistible hook that’ll keep audiences hungry for more.


Grade: B+


THE DROPOUT debuts with its first three episodes Thursday, March 3rd and the remaining episodes will drop weekly.