#FIRSTLOOK: “THE DROPOUT”
By Mr. Will Wong
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about 2022, it’s that we can’t get enough of fraudsters. Following the release Inventing Anna and The Tinder Swindler, Director Michael Showalter (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) tackles the scandal surrounding convict Elizabeth Holmes. The eight-episode Series chronicles her rise from a Stanford dropout to her hustle bringing her health technology company Theranos, up to a valuation of $10 billion at its peak. And then there’s her eventual downfall, now facing up to 20 years (sentencing to take place this fall) in jail after being found guilty of defrauding investors. The Series explores the peak of greed in Silicon Valley and its consequences.
The Series is based on the Podcast of the same name by Rebecca Jarvis and we must admit, is an entertaining watch. We meet Holmes‘ (Amanda Seyfried), witnessing her transformation from her youth including her time in China showing-off her Chinese-Mandarin, meeting businessman Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews). The two would begin an affair spanning several years, which saw Balwani sign-on as Chief Operating Officer at Theranos, with Holmes the Chief Executive Officer. From there we see a toxic relationship, which propelled the wildfire that was Theranos, the company claiming to revolutionize blood testing with small volumes of blood – later proven false – and had prepared to launch itself into popular drug store chains across America.
The Dropout succeeds in keeping us in engaged, uncovering the juicy details that led to Holmes‘ downfall, brought to light by Wall Street Journal journalist John Carreyrou (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) in his 2015 exposé. This, as we see Holmes focus on leading her company and garnering accolades, become an inspiration for aspiring female entrepreneurs. As her company begins to crumble beneath her and once-loyal personnel begin to exit, Theranos‘ scientific credibility is challenged, with real people suffering the consequences of inaccurate blood testing.
Seyfried rises to the tough challenge of taking us on this wild ride through the darkly comedic aspects of “rah-rah” start-up company culture, going against the grain of the older male-dominated corporate culture. It is a marvel seeing her transformation as she embraces her CEO role, lowering her voice, embodying Holmes‘ denial and desperation as she is constantly dangling on a thread with the truth always dangerously close to being exposed. Andrews also is captivating and scary, emotionally dependent and vulnerable with Holmes in their most intimate moments, but also a raging tyrant. This, and a phenomenal and diverse Supporting Cast including the likes of Stephen Fry, Laurie Metcalf, William H. Macy, Sam Waterston, Alan Ruck, Dylan Minnette, LisaGay Hamilton and several more, make this an easy watch.
Disney+ subscribers are in for a treat as the first three episodes of THE DROPOUT arrive March 3, 2022, with new episodes to arrive weekly.