After The Social Network and Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which focus on the soulless narcissists whose only motive was to make money even if it meant losing humanity, there comes “The Dropout”. It is an eight part series streaming on Hulu. Based on Elizabeth Holmes who created Theranos and was convicted for defrauding a large number of investors, the series resembles the films/shows which are about the rise and downfall of a capitalist. Amanda Seyfried, known for Mean Girls and Mamma Mia, stars as the protagonist and has garnered positive responses for her acting, voice and demeanor of Elizabeth Holmes. The series starts with the character of Holmes testifying in a courtroom which gives the viewers an idea of the essence of the show.
Her mother named Elizabeth Marvel tries to control her life but Holmes’s devotion to be a billionaire is firm from the very beginning. She goes to Stanford University, where she is lonely and doesn’t have any friends. She attends a party where she gets raped and when the university doesn’t take any action, she decides to drop out. Holmes then manages to persuade her parents to invest the money for her college education in the company she is going to start i.e. Theranos. Her idea is of a machine that will test someone’s blood via a drop and she succeeds in making a multitude of individuals to invest a lot of money including George Schultz, who served in the American government as the Secretaries of State and Treasury. Schultz’s grandson Tyler, played by Dylan Minnette of 13 Reasons Why fame, was part of the conspiracy. He and Erika Cheung, a whistleblower at Theranos, know that the technology doesn’t work. Still the company continued deploying tests including in Walgreens stores. Unlike Holmes, who was not bothered with patients getting false blood test results, Schultz and Cheung felt they have to do something.
Holmes falls in love with Sunny Balwani, played by Naveen Andrews of the Bride and Prejudice, who is her colleague. The protagonist gets elusive and finally entirely deceiving as she works to entice the investors and keep the ones who have invested in her company happy. Eventually, Elizabeth’s act of abandoning her company’s chemist will be one of her many countless mistakes. And in the meantime, a correspondent from Wall Street Journal is observing her moves.
One of the significant elements of The Dropout which must be highlighted is the sexism and discrimination the protagonist has to endure while making each decision and it is skeptical to see a young woman create a billion dollar industry in a male-dominated society. Successful businesswomen are few, therefore when Holmes made it to the Forbes list of influential people some viewers may feel that she is being prosecuted because of being a woman in addition to defrauding clients. Although, unlike movies such as The Wolf of the Wall Street where a sincere effort was made by Scorsese to downplay the wrongdoings and lewd behavior of Jordan Belfort, The Dropout is quite open in narrating the protagonist’s disgraceful actions. Amanda Seyfried, who had an Academy Award nomination, has nailed the most striking characteristic of Holmes i.e. her deep voice.