In Hulu’s ‘The Dropout’ Amanda Seyfried Nails Theranos Scammer-Weirdo Elizabeth Holmes

At first they think you are crazy. Then they fight you. Then suddenly you change the world.

Well, at least you’ve become a gangster’s geek with stories of scammers, garnering Hollywood interest and being the subject of some extreme film and TV projects. famous, at least one of them—Hulu’s New Series Dropout—We could say it’s pretty good.

The first three sentences are really said by Elizabeth Holmes and now a part of her popularity. Holmes is disgraced founder of Theranos, a company that frantically cheated to achieve a $9 billion valuation and turned her, the youngest self-made female billionaire, into a tech star and — this is no exaggeration — a celebrity. global savior. The promise is a revolutionary blood test that uses only a tiny finger prick; the fact that, outside of the truth is this technology maybe change the game, it doesn’t work and she and her company are big scammers.

But what makes Holmes such a charming character are the first two sentences of the infamous spell that is undeniable truth.

When she dropped out of her sophomore year at Stanford and convinced her parents to invest her tuition money in this company, everyone thought she was crazy. And as she amassed the support of the likes of Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, and George Shultz and became one of the most famous and admired business people in the world, skeptics took their noses. on the company and its claims. But for Holmes, they can be seen as jealous haters — something to be proud of when you’re just a blonde billionaire who’s about to change the world.

If you know anything about Holmes, Theranos, and this horrifying scam, you know this woman is completely baffled. She knew she had a company, a mission, and a promise built on a fragile home – 9 billion of them in fact, and each a lie. However, she remains steadfast in her insistence that she and this nonexistent technology will actually do it, which changes the entire world.

That’s outrageous. One of the best What the hell ?! modern stories. Obviously that’s fodder for good TV, but that’s where we become the skeptics. When our collective obsession with scams and messes — especially those of the lady-boss scams — goes viral, television doesn’t know what to do with them. Face-to-face stories are great, but watching TV is pointless if it doesn’t have something to say about it or an understanding of how to combine entertainment value with real-world stakes.

Netflix’s Invented Anna is an abomination for that matter — man, I hate that show — so much so, at a time of exhaustion with stories like this, it’s hard to shake the suspicion that Dropout will follow up as a TV scam of its own: the illusory promise of a shocking true story that turns into an unwieldy mess with a lack of focus or perspective. But Dropout, which premiered the first three episodes on Thursday on Hulu, worked wonders, in that it was a real hit. And the gamble that makes them all successful is the best all-round performance in a career since Amanda Seyfried as Holmes.

Much of the mythology of the Theranos saga is wrapped up in the way that Holmes herself, as well as the fact that she is plastered on the cover of every business magazine and seems to give interviews to anyone with a tape recorder, is an unsolvable mystery. She may have stood out in the sea of ​​tech buffs wearing hoodies and their rights in their bags just by the fact that she’s a woman and she’s given her best, but she adhered to at least one stereotype of the self-proclaimed prodigy entrepreneur: she seemed a bit eccentric.

By the time he became a public figure, Holmes, inspired by his idol Steve Jobs, wore a business uniform in various versions of black, but usually with turtlenecks. Her hair was blonde and, to an observer, appeared to be deep-fried, oddly curly and disheveled for someone who could, at the time, be able to buy all sorts of things. luxuries of life, such as conditioner. It was a neutral color palette that made her deep blue eyes glaze over as if they were electrically illuminated on a cyborg. The fact that those eyes are so large and appear forever unblinking adds to the mystique, foreshadowing some kind of unsettling genius that you just can’t take your eyes off — or rather, won’t challenge.

The cyborg’s comparison to her unusual voice – a gruff, hoarse monotone, clearly a few registers lower than Holmes’s natural voice. It’s eerie, and those who worked with her have talked about how perplexed it was to watch her adopt the fabricated phrasing (supposedly inspired by her love of… for Yoda) over time. But her voice and visuals seemed to be her armor – some sort of reassurance that she would be taken seriously, or at least her looks wouldn’t distract from the task at hand. (Again: Change the World!)

The fact that those eyes are so large and appear forever unblinking adds to the mystique, foreshadowing some kind of unsettling genius that you just can’t take your eyes off — or rather, won’t challenge.

Character descriptions like “mystery” and “robot” can be deadly for an actor trying to bring a part to life. At best, they can create usable imitations of idiosyncrasies; At worst, they become cartoons and satires. So it’s no wonder that Seyfried, with his own impressive eyes that can focus like lasers, as well as transform into a source of emotion and sickness, has created a portrait of a man. complex, dramatic, contradictory and, at times, possibly even related. And she does it without undermining the enormity of the downfall that brought Holmes into the public eye, and the monstrous behavior that has made her a lasting cultural presence.

Seyfried captures the hustle that is Holmes’s driving force, squeezing just enough into her mania that eventually leads to her hiccups. Scenes where she auditions for a low-pitched voice could easily turn out to be a joke, or more likely, cruel or mentally wrong. But even those scenes are somehow surprisingly human. There is a stacked supporting cast in Dropout: William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf, Elizabeth Marvel, Sam Waterston, Stephen Fry, Michaela Watkins, Dylan Minnette and Kate Burton, for starters. But this is Amanda Seyfried’s Show, and she’s come to the occasion.

This is also a story that, when you think about it, makes absolutely no sense. As, this has happened? Really?! Have all these people been scammed? Was all this money spent? Did all these employees go along with the cover-up? There’s an inherent comedy in it, if done delicately.

Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews) and Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) in Hulu’s Dropout

Beth Dubber / Hulu

Showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether who created New girland director Michael Showalter (Great disease) found a way to make funny notes without changing the situation. The lives of real people are at stake because of this blood test fraud, and the careers of real employees are at risk of speaking out about it. Juggling that fascination with absurdity-has-has-humour, and frankly, the energetic thrill of the newfound world when a company reaches the heights that Theranos was able to develop into a creative clown show. But Dropout pull out the donkey.

You get to understand who Holmes is, what fuels her ambitions, and ultimately the despair behind the foolish illusion that she must continue her journey, even when things turn out of control. control. However, the series never denigrates her or praises her actions — appealing given the scale and non-transparency of what she’s been up to for as long as she’s done.

When you meet young Elizabeth in the first few episodes, you’re sure to be invigorated to watch her build a company. She’s a good girl and a smart girl, and she’s facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties as a woman her age in the male-led startup world. dominate. She was easy to root until then.

The catch is that throughout the series, Dropout clever twist of the story, you probably don’t realize. The thrill of Elizabeth’s drive to work hard to build her company transforms into a terrifying thriller. As people begin to combine the cheat’s cunning and the astonishing real-world consequences, she becomes a complex villain, surrounded and protected by a group of henchmen. loyalty she cast a spell. That the show never loses the “huh?!” among them was perhaps its most informed decision in figuring out how to adapt to this unconstructed story.

There have been documentaries about Elizabeth Holmes. There is a feature film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Written and directed by Adam McKay in works. McKay, with Vice, The Big Shortand Don’t look up, may be responsible for the way we are used to seeing projects “based on a true story” being told. It’s a recipe that combines the audacity of winking in front of the camera with Sorkin’s moral greatness.

Dropouthappily, helping us eliminate the patronage of over-simplification, and instead give us something far more valuable, something Theranos hopes to achieve: A new way , better to do things.

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