‘The Dropout’ takes a riveting story from trial to TV

Annie Goldstein

By 2015, Theranos, the medical startup company valued at $9 billion, had reached its peak. With claims of technology that could use a single pinprick of blood to determine the results of over 240 tests, from measuring glucose levels to producing genetic analysis, the company was set on achieving breakthroughs that would change the face of medicine. Founder Elizabeth Holmes grasped the world’s attention with her pioneering efforts at the forefront of diagnostics and her budding success as the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire. A year later, Holmes and her prized company would come crashing down after being exposed for using technology that failed to provide the results promised. Hulu’s new series, “The Dropout,” serves as a medium for us to attempt to understand the ambitions of the Stanford dropout and mastermind behind it all.

Posing with her Fortune cover, Holmes was named the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire. (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews, William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf and other Hollywood stars, the cast fits perfectly into their roles, bringing the riveting story to life. The real star of the show, without a doubt, is Seyfried. She has an impeccable ability to embody even Holmes’ slightest of social cues and mannerisms. From nailing Holmes’ deep baritone voice to playing into her moments of awkwardness and inability to connect with others, her prowess is worthy of great praise. 

The first episode begins in a courtroom where Holmes gives testimony for her trial. Director Michael Showalter uses the Holmes trial as an aid in telling the mesmerizing story while intertwining the past with the present. Set in 1995, the first clip of the past is a young Holmes striding painfully slow down an empty track, her teammates and opponents standing on the sidelines in disbelief of her perseverance to finish the race. What initially seems like a somewhat cheesy way to capture Holmes’ childhood struggle in combination with her ambition and drive turns into a perfectly constructed visual of Holmes in every aspect of her life — unbreakable by hardship and challenge but too consumed by her desire for success that she is unable to comprehend the lessons failure brings. 

Standing in front of the mirror, Elizabeth Holmes is accompanied by former chief operating officer of Theranos, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

A catchy soundtrack accompanies Holmes from her days at Stanford University to the earliest stages of business, adding humanizing touches to a very grim story. More specifically, the song “I’m in a Hurry (and Don’t Know Why)” by Alabama plays gleefully in the background during many pivotal scenes. Its lines, “I’m in a hurry to get things done” and “Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun,” come to fruition as Holmes embarks on her journey to becoming a billionaire. 

In just the first three episodes that launched with the show’s premiere, the audience is enthralled with the storyline and the inner workings of Elizabeth Holmes. With an easy-to-follow, chronologically sequenced plotline, the viewer is enveloped by an immersive look into the life of Holmes as she progresses through her late childhood into adulthood. Grabbing the attention of viewers from tech startups in Silicon Valley to the followers of the Holmes trial, “The Dropout” is a must-watch series available only on Hulu. Be sure to stay tuned for new episodes releasing every Thursday.