FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE THE DROPOUT, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
Let’s get one thing clear here… Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is a sociopath, a narcissist, and a downright terrible human being. She is a woman who was so wrapped up in visions of grandeur and so obsessed with fame and fortune, that she put millions of people’s lives at risk… to get to the top. Her blood sampling device that experts called “revolutionary”, never actually worked in the first place… and luckily, through the courage of a few whistle-blowers who put their lives on the line to divulge the truth, Elizabeth Holmes’ true colors were shown to the world. And hopefully, in September of this year, she will be locked away for her crimes.
DO THE SHOWRUNNERS TRY TO MAKE US SYMPATHIZE WITH ELIZABETH HOLMES?
So, my biggest worry going into Hulu’s The Dropout was that they were going to try and make the audience sympathize with Elizabeth Holmes, by humanizing her. This was just done in Netflix’s Inventing Anna… Which took a crook who defrauded banks, hotels, and even her friends, for thousands… and attempted to make her a character you could connect to. I think that was a grave miscalculation on the showrunners of that limited series… Who basically rewarded a criminal for their bad behavior. And my worries materialized in The Dropout’s very first episode… as we get a lengthy backstory of Holmes’ younger life and college years. And I kept thinking to myself in the first half of this show… are they really doing this? Are they really attempting to force the audience to commiserate with Elizabeth Holmes? And I wasn’t happy…
Luckily, there’s a scene in the third episode of The Dropout where all of this changes. I won’t give anything away, but it takes place in an Apple store… and it’s a true testimony to this character’s sociopathic tendencies. Once I realized, as a viewer, that the writers were dedicated to actually portraying Holmes as she really is and not a glorified version of her… That they were just giving us her back story to show us how and why she became the bloodthirsty CEO that she ended up becoming… I finally got on board with this series.
DOES THE DROPOUT TAKE A WHILE TO GET INTO?
Because of this though, I believe one of The Dropout’s biggest flaws is that it’s just not all that interesting in the first few episodes. It’s not until we start following the journalists who are working on an investigative piece on Holmes and the people who are trying to take her down from the inside (aka the heroes of the story), that this show really takes flight. It will take the patience of many viewers who are willing to tune in week after week, to reap the rewards.
HOW IS AMANDA SEYFRIED IN THE LEAD ROLE? (AND CAN SHE PULL OFF THAT DEEP VOICE!?)
What are these rewards, you ask? Well, first and foremost, The Dropout has an incredible ensemble cast that really brings this story to life. With Laurie Metcalf, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Kevin Sussman, Camryn Mi-young Kim, Dylan Minnette, and William H. Macy all being players in taking this woman down and chewing the scenery while doing it. But, the show basically rides or dies on the strength of Amanda Seyfried’s performance as Elizabeth Holmes.
It makes it even more difficult for the actress because Holmes is notorious for her “fake deep voice” that she used to impress the men in power around her. And not only does the show do a great job of detailing the origins of this voice, but Seyfried absolutely nails it. I have never been the biggest fan of hers, but she blew me away here. Rather than using a ton of prosthetics and make-up to transform her, Amanda Seyfried uses her own strengths as a performer to bring Holmes to life. I honestly completely forgot that it was the Mean Girls star up on the screen as the series went on, which is a testament to her incredible work here.
IS THIS SERIES WORTH EIGHT HOURS OF YOUR TIME?
I do think The Dropout is a little messy at times, especially with its editing. The show tries to cover so much time and follow so many different characters, that it can feel like it’s all over the place and unfocused. I also think the music choice of radio hits from the years being depicted, is way too on-the-nose and distracting. But, despite these flaws, I think The Dropout is certainly worth a watch and not just for Seyfried’s awards-worthy portrayal. Once the show gets going, it is absolutely riveting television. And I believe there is enough in-depth information here, that even if you are familiar with the story, you will be surprised and intrigued. So, if you have a little bit of patience to get through the first few episodes, The Dropout is worth your time.
The Dropout premieres its first three episodes on Hulu on March 3rd, 2022.
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