The Dropout: What’s fact and what’s fiction in Hulu’s new Elizabeth Holmes miniseries?

True crime stories have slowly but surely taken over pop culture – from podcasts to TV series.

In case of The Dropoutit has taken the form of both.

The hit documentary podcast, which focuses on the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her billionaire health tech company Theranos, has now been adapted into an eight-part miniseries starring Amanda Seyfried.

Holmes became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire after her company claimed to have invented a means of performing whole blood tests using a single drop of blood.

The promise resulted in Theranos being valued at $9 billion. However, Holmes was charged with fraud against investors and was indicted on 11 counts of fraud in 2018.

ABC News journalist Rebecca Jarvis documented the case on a podcast called The Dropoutwhich released its first season in early 2019.

The new series is based on the podcast, with Jarvis serving as executive producer alongside the podcast’s producers, Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson.

The first three episodes of The Dropout is available to stream now on Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in the UK.

Amanda Seyfriend in “The Dropout”

(Beth Dubber/Hulu via AP)

Here’s a breakdown of the true story behind the series and what the series has gotten right so far.

Holme’s childhood

While the series only gives us a brief glimpse into Holmes’ childhood, the main points are factual.


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She actually attempted to design a time machine at the age of seven, the series claims. She is said to have told relatives as a young child that she once wanted to be a billionaire.

As shown in the series, Holmes’ father worked in an executive position for Enron. It’s also true that her father lost his job when the company went bankrupt amid an accounting fraud scandal.

The Enron scandal became one of the most high-profile corporate fraud cases in US history.

Holmes’ time at college

As revealed in the first episode of the series, Holmes attended Stanford and majored in chemical engineering.

Another detail The Dropout Rightly so, she was named President’s Scholar – an award that earned her $3,000 for a research project.

Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes on the Hulu series The Dropout

(Beth Dubber/Hulu via AP)

It was also true that Holmes claimed she was sexually assaulted at Stanford and reported the alleged incident to police at the time.

Holmes testified about the alleged rape when she took the stand at her fraud trial and told the court she was deeply affected by the incident.

“I was wondering what — how to process this experience and what I want to do with my life,” she said. “And I’ve decided that I’m going to build a life by building this company.”

Holmes’ passions

Many of the aspects of Holmes’ personality that we see on the show are pulled straight from real life, including her affinity for drinking “green juice.” a Mixture of spinach, parsley, wheatgrass and celery.

She was also a documented fan of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs — another real-life detail that feeds into the series.

Holmes’ voice

Holmes’ distinctive deep voice is perhaps one of the few parts of the series less demonstrably grounded in truth.

In the third episode of the series, Holmes is seen taking on the voice as total affectation and conditioning herself to speak in a lower register.

The real Elizabeth Holmes photographed in 2015

(Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune)

There has never been any definitive confirmation that Holmes’ famous deep voice isn’t her real one. However, the voice has fueled much speculation, with commenters sharing videos and audio clips in which she appears to fail, briefly letting her “real voice” through.

Several people who knew her early in her life have also claimed that she used to speak in a much higher pitch. So while a bit of artistic liberty is taken here, The Dropout still dramatizes what is commonly believed.

The Yoda Quote

One of the most memorable moments in the first three episodes is the unveiling of a giant quote from Star Wars character Yoda printed on the Theranos lobby wall.

This was really something Holmes arranged: as in the series, the real Theranos building housed a huge mural that quoted the diminutive Jedi Master’s words: “Do it or don’t do it. There is no try.”

Naveen Andrews as Sunny Balwani, left, and Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes


What happened after that?

While the first three episodes contained some flash forwards to Holmes’ criminal trial, many of the story’s biggest developments are yet to come.

For a full breakdown of the Theranos scandal, click here.

New episodes of The Dropout arrive every Wednesday on Hulu in the US and Disney Plus in the UK.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/the-dropout-elizabeth-holmes-based-on-b2030577.html The Dropout: What’s fact and what’s fiction in Hulu’s new Elizabeth Holmes miniseries?

Tom Vazquez

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