If you’ve been reading my articles here lately (you should), you’ll know I’m on a true crime binge. You can see some of my favorites on this list. Today we’re visiting The Dropout, the original Hulu series about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, the scam of the century. The show features Mean Girls star Amanda Seyfried alongside an impressive ensemble cast which includes Stephen Fry and William H. Macy. But is it any good? And where are Elizabeth Holmes and their Theranos cronies now?
Is The Dropout Good?
In a word? Yes. But it’s not quite as simple as that. There are 8 episodes, 7 of which cover the rise of Elizabeth Holmes from Stanford dropout to billionaire. The “fall” of Holmes and Theranos is really only the focus of 1 episode, and even then, it’s only partly about that.
I felt somewhat discontent with this, as after everything Elizabeth Holmes, Sunny Balwani and other people at Theranos did, I wanted to enjoy their fall from grace. But considering what happened to them in real life, I somewhat understand the reasoning behind this choice.
Theranos was all about Holmes’ supposed technology, which could deliver lab results almost instantly from a single drop of blood.
The acting is superb, only let slightly down by Amanda Seyfried going full method on Holmes’ mannerisms. But maybe that’s really how Holmes was. I don’t quite know for sure. But everyone did an amazing job at delivering in front of the camera.
Elizabeth Meriwether totally nailed the tone of the show as well, which can be difficult when dealing with medical and technical situations mixed in with heartfelt moments.
The story itself is mindblowing: how did a 19-year-old college dropout end up convincing the most experienced business people in the United States that she had biomedical technology that didn’t even exist? Fascinating stuff. Ripping people off for millions, putting patients’ lives at stake. It was crazy.
There are some standout moments and phrases, including the “inspiring step forward” speech and the absolute torture sources went through after revealing Theranos’ shady practices.
I did not find a dull moment in the series, so if you’re after a good limited-run series that packs a punch, The Dropout is for you.
Where Are They Now?
Do not read ahead if you do not want mild spoilers for how things turned out for these horrible people.
The founder and former CEO of Theranos is actually awaiting her sentencing, which should happen this month. As per her Wikipedia entry: “Her trial in the case of U.S. v. Holmes, et al. ended in January 2022 when Holmes was convicted of defrauding investors, and found not guilty of defrauding patients. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison, plus potentially millions in restitution and fines, and is scheduled to be sentenced in October 2022”. She has a son with husband and hotel heir Billy Evans.
Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was Holmes’ boyfriend, as well as president and COO of Theranos. He received a similar verdict to that of Elizabeth: (2) counts of conspiring with Holmes, (6) counts of defrauding investors and (4) counts of patient fraud (2022). He’s also awaiting sentencing, which should happen around the same time as that of Holmes.
After an incredible and illustrious career as Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury of the US, Schultz died in 2021 without ever having asked for forgiveness from his grandson Tyler, whom he slandered in support of Holmes and Theranos.
One of the original whistleblowers to reveal what was happening at Theranos, Erika is now the Executive Director at Ethics in Entrepreneurship; Cross-border Innovation in Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences (as per her Twitter bio).
According to its official website, “EIE’s mission is to take a stakeholder-led approach to improving the ethics, culture, practices and outcomes of emerging companies by providing them with practical knowledge, resources, and networks.”.