The Dropout
Genre
Created byElizabeth Meriwether
Based onABC News Podcast The Dropout
Starring
ComposerAnne Nikitin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes8
Production
Executive producers
Producers
Cinematography
  • Michelle Lawler
  • Jonathan Furmanski
  • Blake McClure
Editors
  • David Berman
  • Steve Welch
  • Susana Benaim
Running time45–55 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkHulu
ReleaseMarch 3 (2022-03-03) –
April 7, 2022 (2022-04-07)

The Dropout is an American biographical drama miniseries that documents the disgraced biotechnology company Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, played by Amanda Seyfried.[1] It features an ensemble supporting cast, including Naveen Andrews, Elizabeth Marvel, William H. Macy, Stephen Fry, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Bill Irwin, Utkarsh Ambudkar, LisaGay Hamilton, Michael Ironside, Laurie Metcalf, Anne Archer, and Sam Waterston. Created by Elizabeth Meriwether, the series is based on the podcast of the same name hosted by Rebecca Jarvis and produced by ABC News.

The Dropout is the first television production to be produced by Searchlight Television. It premiered on the streaming service Hulu on March 3, 2022,[2] and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the writing and the performances of the cast, particularly Seyfried. At the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series earned six nominations, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, with Seyfried winning for Outstanding Lead Actress. It was also nominated for Best Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film and Seyfried won Best Actress at the 80th Golden Globe Awards.

Synopsis

The Dropout, based on the ABC Audio podcast of the same name, is a series about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos.[3] The show touches on experiences that likely motivated Holmes's deceptions and lies in a linear fashion, starting from her preteens and all the way to her exposure as a fraud.[4]

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring/Guest

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date [5]
1"I'm In a Hurry"Michael ShowalterElizabeth MeriwetherMarch 3, 2022 (2022-03-03)
In summer 2002, 18-year-old Elizabeth Holmes participates in a Stanford University Mandarin exchange program in Beijing, where she befriends Sunny Balwani, then a graduate student 19 years her senior. The two remain in touch once Holmes begins her studies at Stanford, where she obtains a graduate-level research position with professor Channing Robertson. Holmes, who idolizes Steve Jobs and aspires to become a billionaire inventor, files a patent for a wearable drug-delivery patch and asks Robertson to invest; Robertson connects her to professor Phyllis Gardner, who swiftly shuts down the idea. As a sophomore, Holmes is raped at a party, and cuts ties with Balwani shortly thereafter. She soon comes up with the idea for an at-home blood test that can deliver rapid results from minuscule volumes of blood, and tells her parents she plans to drop out of Stanford to turn the idea into a business. She and Balwani begin a romantic relationship.
2"Satori"Michael ShowalterMatt LutskyMarch 3, 2022 (2022-03-03)
By 2006, Holmes' startup Theranos is fully operational, staffed largely by her former colleagues at the Stanford research group, with biochemist Ian Gibbons serving as chief scientist. Holmes unsuccessfully attempts to secure funding from various venture capitalists. Despite Theranos' prototype blood-testing device proving faulty and incomplete, Holmes eventually persuades investor Don Lucas to introduce her to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who asks Holmes to present Theranos' prototype to Swiss healthcare firm Novartis. When the prototype malfunctions the day before the presentation, Holmes and her colleagues unsuccessfully spend the night trying to fix it, until Holmes decides to fake the demo to Novartis by remotely sending a prior, successful test result to be read out by the device. Holmes secures $165 million in series B funding, and later admits her deceit to Balwani at an office party; Balwani tells her to keep it quiet.
3"Green Juice"Michael ShowalterHilary BettisMarch 3, 2022 (2022-03-03)
In 2008, Theranos continues to expand and begins building a new office. Holmes' relationship with Balwani begins to strain during this time, and his involvement in the company remains secret. Richard Fuisz, the Holmes' former family friend who has filed several healthcare patents, sues Theranos out of bitterness for not being consulted. Theranos begins seeking contracts from major pharmaceuticals without first completing their prototype, and Holmes runs a validity trial for Pfizer on terminally ill cancer patients using the nonfunctional device. Lucas learns of Holmes' deceptions and gathers the board for a vote of no confidence in her as CEO, but Holmes counters by suggesting a pivot from pharmaceuticals to retail, and announces that Theranos is receiving $20 million from an "old friend": Balwani, whom she brings on as COO.
4"Old White Men"Michael ShowalterDan LeFrancMarch 10, 2022 (2022-03-10)
In 2010, with Balwani as COO, Theranos has drastically increased security measures to keep its departments siloed off, which makes Gibbons suspicious. Gibbons is alarmed when he learns that Theranos is pitching to Walgreens without a working prototype, and warns Robertson of the harm it will inflict upon ordinary people. Robertson dismisses his concerns and tells Holmes about their meeting, leading Holmes to fire Gibbons. However, the entire engineering team threatens to quit in retaliation for Gibbons' firing, so Holmes rehires Gibbons but places him in a menial desk job. Walgreens pulls out of the partnership after Holmes repeatedly avoids showing them Theranos' labs, but executive Jay Rosan, who is enamored by the culture of Silicon Valley, convinces CFO Wade Miquelon to keep the deal in order to avoid them becoming obsolete. Holmes later entices former Secretary of State George Shultz to join Theranos' board, hoping to make enough government contacts to speed up the FDA's regulatory process.
5"Flower of Life"Francesca GregoriniLiz HannahMarch 17, 2022 (2022-03-17)
By February 2013, Theranos has still not launched its "wellness centers" inside Walgreens stores due to its prototype remaining incomplete; Miquelon gives Holmes till September. Holmes has launched a counter-suit against Fuisz and hired David Boies as her attorney; Fuisz, meanwhile, subpoenas Gibbons - whose name is on all of Holmes' patents - to testify that Holmes made no scientific contributions to the company. Gibbons is desperate to leave the company since he has been prevented from working in his lab, but faces pressure not to testify from Theranos' legal team, as well as the fact that his health insurance is tied to his employment. Gibbons ultimately kills himself the day before his scheduled testimony; Holmes shows little remorse for his death. Fuisz subsequently accepts a settlement from Boies, but later contacts Gardner, who tells him Holmes is a fraud. Holmes and Balwani decide to commit intellectual property theft by repurposing Siemens' blood-testing technology for Theranos' machines, which allows them to launch in Walgreens.
6"Iron Sisters"Francesca GregoriniWei-Ning YuMarch 24, 2022 (2022-03-24)
In October 2013, Fuisz, Gardner, and Gibbons' widow Rochelle contact Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou to expose Theranos' fraud; Carreyrou tells them they need more sources. Recent college graduate Erika Cheung joins Theranos as a lab assistant and befriends Shultz's grandson Tyler, an intern. The two soon discover that Theranos is falsifying blood test data on real patients and using Siemens' machines to run their tests. Tyler emails their concerns to Holmes to establish an electronic paper trail, resulting in his firing by Balwani. Tyler and Cheung then attempt to convince the elder Shultz of Holmes' lies, but Shultz rebuffs them, and Cheung is soon fired. Lab director Mark Roessler divulges details of Theranos' fraudulent practices to Fuisz, who passes them on to Carreyrou. Tyler and Cheung subsequently contact Carreyrou themselves.
7"Heroes"Erica WatsonLiz HeldensMarch 31, 2022 (2022-03-31)
By 2015, Holmes has become a media celebrity, while Carreyrou has amassed several more background sources for his exposé, including doctors who attest to a multitude of false diagnoses patients have received from Theranos. However, Theranos sends lawyers and spies to scare most of Carreyrou's sources into silence, including Roessler, while Rupert Murdoch, the Journal's owner, invests $125 million into the company. Tyler refuses to sign any documents from Theranos' litigators. Shultz warns Holmes that Balwani is a malign influence. Carreyrou and his editor Judith Baker meet with Boies along with Theranos' lawyers and catch them admitting to using Siemens' machines in their labs after repeatedly denying doing so, giving them enough evidence to run the article. Carreyrou's piece is published that night, sending the public into a frenzy while Holmes insists on fighting the allegations.
8"Lizzy"Erica WatsonTeleplay by : Elizabeth Meriwether
Story by : Elizabeth Meriwether & Sofya Levitsky-Weitz
April 7, 2022 (2022-04-07)
In the wake of Carreyrou's article, Holmes and Balwani scramble to get Theranos' board on their side. Carreyrou worries that the article will get swept up in the news cycle, but Tyler agrees to go on record for a follow-up piece, while Cheung files a formal complaint to the CMS about the mismanagement of Theranos' labs. The CMS subsequently investigates, and publishes a damning report in February 2016 that orders Theranos' facilities shut down for two years. Holmes forces Balwani out of the company by announcing his resignation to the board behind his back, ending their relationship. She later begins dating hotel heir Billy Evans, and remains in denial of having done any wrong. A postscript notes the numerous fraud charges faced by Holmes and Balwani, the various false diagnoses provided by Theranos machines, and the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars lost in the company's collapse.

Production

Development

On April 10, 2019, Deadline Hollywood reported that Hulu had given the production a series order for 6 to 10 episodes. The series would be executive produced by Kate McKinnon, the host of The Dropout, Rebecca Jarvis, and its producers Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson. The series would be Searchlight Television’s inaugural production.[3] Upon the casting of Amanda Seyfried, she also joined the miniseries as a producer while Elizabeth Meriwether, Liz Heldens, Liz Hannah, and Katherine Pope joined Dunn and Thompson as executive producers.[1] On March 31, 2021, Michael Showalter and Jordana Mollick joined the limited series as executive producers. Showalter directed the first four episodes of the series.[6]

Casting

Kate McKinnon was originally cast to star as Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos.[7] On February 18, 2021, McKinnon dropped out of the project. Though her departure did not come with an explanation, production moved forward without McKinnon.[8] On March 29, 2021, Amanda Seyfried was cast to replace McKinnon.[1] A day later, Naveen Andrews joined the main cast.[9] On June 10, 2021, William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf, Elizabeth Marvel, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Kate Burton, Stephen Fry, Michel Gill, Michael Ironside, Bill Irwin, and Josh Pais were cast in recurring roles.[10] On August 3, 2021, Dylan Minnette, Alan Ruck, Bashir Salahuddin, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Hart Bochner, James Hiroyuki Liao, Nicky Endres, Camryn Mi-Young Kim, and Andrew Leeds were cast in recurring roles.[11] On August 5, 2021, Sam Waterston, Kurtwood Smith and Anne Archer were cast in recurring roles.[12] On September 14, 2021, LisaGay Hamilton, Michaela Watkins, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Kevin Sussman, Sam Straley, and Shaun Brown joined the cast in recurring capacities.[13]

Release

The series premiered on March 3, 2022, with the first three episodes available immediately and the rest debuting on a weekly basis on Hulu.[2] In international markets, it was released simultaneously via Star content hub on Disney+, on Star+ in Latín America,[14] and on Disney+ Hotstar in India and Southeast Asia.[15]

Reception

Audience viewership

According to Parrot Analytics, which looks at consumer engagement in consumer research, streaming, downloads, and on social media, The Dropout was the 9th most in-demand new show, during the week of March 12, 2022 to March 18, 2022.[16][17] According to data from Samba TV, 499,000 US households watched The Dropout in its first 4 days of streaming.[18] According to Nielsen Holdings, The Dropout spent one week in the top ten streaming programs, during the week of March 7, 2022 to March 13, 2022.[19][20] According to the streaming aggregator Reelgood, The Dropout was the 3rd most watched program across all platforms, during the week of March 24, 2022,[21] and was the most watched tv show during the week of March 31, 2022.[22] According to the streaming aggregator JustWatch, The Dropout was the 9th most streamed television series across all platforms in the U.S., during the week ending April 3, 2022.[23]

Critical response

Amanda Seyfried received critical acclaim for her performance in the series.

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the limited series holds an 89% approval rating based on 95 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "The Dropout succeeds more as a docudrama than a dark comedy, but Amanda Seyfried's disquieting portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes brings fresh blood to this retelling of recent history."[24] On Metacritic, the series has a score of 75 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[25]

Caroline Framke of Variety found the miniseries very impressive for its genuine portrait of Elizabeth Holmes, acclaimed the performances of the actors, especially Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews, and said that the show skillfully manages to cover Holmes' life throughout the years flawlessly with its edits.[26] Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter acclaimed Seyfried for her performance, while praising the supporting cast, complimented how the miniseries manages to depict Holmes and the different aspects of her personality, and found the characterization of Holmes' entourage the show's best feature.[27] Reviewing the series for Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall gave a rating of 5 out of 5 stars and described it as, "a maddening, gripping, and at times startlingly funny recreation of a story that would feel too absurd to be true if we didn't already know otherwise."[28] Beth Webb of Empire rated the series 4 out of 5 stars, praised the performance of Seyfried and Andrews, and found the show cohesive and entrancing.[29] Joyce Slaton of Common Sense Media rated the miniseries 4 out of 5 stars, praised the performances of the actors, and stated that the show illustrates Holmes went too far to make a positive impact on the world.[30] Lucy Mangan of The Guardian rated the miniseries 3 out of 5 stars, praised the performances of the actors and the story, writing, "it's clunky at points, but Amanda Seyfried excels as one-time billionaire grifter Elizabeth Holmes – and the story is simply too jaw-dropping to pass up."[31]

Accolades

This section needs expansion with: 2023 Awards. You can help by adding to it. (January 2023)
Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2022
Dorian TV Awards Best TV Movie or Miniseries The Dropout Nominated [32]
Best TV Performance Amanda Seyfried Nominated
Gold Derby TV Awards Best Limited/Movie Actress Won [33]
Best Limited/Movie Supporting Actor Naveen Andrews Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Streaming Limited or Anthology Series The Dropout Nominated [34]
Best Actress in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Amanda Seyfried Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Naveen Andrews Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Laurie Metcalf Nominated
Best Directing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Michael Showalter (for "Green Juice") Nominated
Best Writing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Elizabeth Meriwether (for "I'm In a Hurry") Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Performance in a Show Amanda Seyfried Nominated [35]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series Elizabeth Meriwether, Katherine Pope,
Michael Showalter, Jordana Mollick, Rebecca Jarvis,
Taylor Dunn, Victoria Thompson, Liz Heldens,
Liz Hannah, Hilton Smith, Dan LeFranc,
Amanda Seyfried, Hilary Bettis, and Megan Mascena
Nominated [36]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Amanda Seyfried Won
Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Francesca Gregorini (for "Iron Sisters") Nominated
Michael Showalter (for "Green Juice") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Elizabeth Meriwether (for "I'm in a Hurry") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Jeanie Bacharach, Mark Rutman, and Alison Goodman Nominated
ReFrame Stamp IMDbPro Top 200 Scripted TV Recipients The Dropout Won [37]
Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Television Movie or Limited Series Kimberly Leonard and Cat Smith Nominated [38]
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries or Specials The Dropout Nominated [39]
Individual Achievement in Drama Amanda Seyfried Nominated
2023
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Limited Series The Dropout Won [40]
Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television Amanda Seyfried Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film The Dropout Nominated [41]
Best Actress – Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film Amanda Seyfried Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or
Limited Series
Nominated [42]
Writers Guild of America Awards Limited Series Hilary Bettis, Liz Hannah, Liz Heldens, Dan LeFranc,
Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, Matt Lutsky, Elizabeth Meriwether,
and Wei-Ning Yu
Nominated [43]

See also

References

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