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‘The Dropout’: Binge Worthy or Don’t Bother?

Image courtesy of REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo Actress Amanda Seyfried, who stars as Elizabeth Holmes in Hulu's "The Dropout" poses at the red-carpet premiere event for the series at Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, February 24, 2022
Starring Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes, “The Dropout” is Hulu’s limited series about the unbelievable rise and fall of Theranos.

At this point, you're probably all too familiar with the story of how Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford at age 19 to start Theranos. You've seen the eyes. You've heard the voice. You know that Theranos was trying to develop a portable device that could run medical tests using a single drop of blood. And you know that in the end, it just didn't work.

Perhaps you were an early believer in the company. She had many people fooled, after all, including us. In 2015 MD+DI editors named Theranos the Medtech Company of the Year – mere weeks before the Wall Street Journal published a scathing investigative report that the technology didn't do what Holmes claimed it did.

Maybe you listened to the popular podcast, hosted by Rebecca Jarvis, watched the HBO documentary, or followed the recent fraud trial that found Holmes guilty on four counts of fraud.

And now you might be wondering if it's worth spending several hours of your downtime watching "The Dropout" on Hulu. Because at this point, maybe you're just kind of over it.

If this is the crossroads you find yourself at, we've got you covered. I binge-watched the first three episodes immediately after Hulu released them, literally pressing play at 11 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday and not turning the television off until 2:30 a.m. Thursday. All while my dog gave me side-eye for keeping him awake. You'll find my verdict below the trailer.

 

'Amanda Seyfried delivers a career-best performance as Elizabeth Holmes ...'

I am an absolute sucker for a compelling character-driven story and for me, the first three episodes of The Dropout did not disappoint. While the jury is still out for many viewers, a quick scroll through Twitter reassures me that at least a few people agree.

"Amanda Seyfried has always been great, but she delivers a career-best performance as Elizabeth Holmes. This show is so well done and she carries it," tweeted Chelsea Steiner (@ChelseaProcrast).

The Dropout shows a portrayal of Holmes' character arc, beginning with the moment her father (played by Michel Gill) loses his job at Enron, a few months before her freshman year at Stanford. Gradually we see her begin to spiral out of control as CEO of Theranos, alternating between her "normal voice" and the fake deepened voice that the real-life Holmes is known for. It isn't until the very end of episode 3 that we see the character staring at herself in the mirror wearing her iconic black turtleneck and messy-bun hairstyle, standing beside her much-older boyfriend Sunny Balwani (played by Naveen Andrews).

"The Dropout brings this energy and keeps you at the endge of your seat. Amanda's portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes is a mirror image and on point. The teamwork between Amanda and Naveen is captivating," tweeted Ariella Strauss (@AriellaStrauss).

I couldn't agree more. Speaking of Naveen (pictured below with Seyfried at the series primere at Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, CA on February 24). As far as I'm concerned, his performance is consistently on par with Seyfried's.

Image courtesy of REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni / Alamy Stock PhotoCast members Amanda Seyfried - who plays Elizabeth Holmes - and Naveen Andrews attend the premiere for the television series "The Dropout" at Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, February 24, 2022.

Actually, as Benji Kahn (@benjikahnx) tweeted, the cast is incredible all around.

"Seyfried just completely owns every moment. Deeply complex, hilarious, and terrifying story all at once," Kahn said.

Let's talk about that soundtrack

Music plays a suprisingly significant role in the first three episodes of "The Dropout" and the soundtrack more than pulls its weight. Featuring everything from Alabama's "I'm in a Hurry (and Don't Know Why)" to Missy Elliott's "We Run This," the show's soundtrack enriches the character development, sets the tone and pacing throughout each episode, creates tension, and helps to propell the story forward.

Some viewers 'dropped out' early

While I'm very much looking forward to the next episode, "The Dropout" is certainly not for everyone. Take my husband, for instance. Generally speaking, my husband is much more of a film critic than I am, so I was curious to get his take on the show – now that we can enjoy shows together again (thanks, Widex).

While the backstory was a big part of what I liked about the first episode, it was Ben's chief complaint.

"I know what she becomes, I don’t care how she gets there," he said.

Another major turnoff for him was how the producers tried to humanize Elizabeth Holmes.

“I don’t want to see her creepy love affair with her chief operations officer. I just don’t want to see any of it. Like, I just don’t care," Ben said. "They’re trying really hard to paint a sympathetic picture of a person who doesn't deserve sympathy. I don’t care what your backstory is  your actions speak for themselves.”

And then he bailed, leaving me and the dog to watch episodes 2 and 3 on our own.

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