The scandalous, true story of Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, let’s see Who Is The Dropout Based On, who at one point was the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, has been told many times in books, podcasts, and documentaries. However, Hulu’s The Dropout, in which Amanda Seyfried plays the disgraced Silicon Valley icon, is the first time that story has been told in a miniseries format.
Who is Elizabeth Holmes?
Holmes started a company called Theranos that makes health technology.
The story starts in 2002 when Holmes started studying chemical engineering at the prestigious Stanford University in California. She soon started coming up with ideas for radical new inventions while she was there. The first was a patch that could be stuck to a person’s skin and would automatically check for infections and give antibiotics if they were found.
Dr. Phyllis Gardner, a professor of medicine, told Holmes that the plan was interesting in theory but physically impossible to carry out. However, Holmes seemed to think that the professor’s knowledge was an underestimation of her skills.
Holmes dropped out of Stanford before her sophomore year to focus on her new business, Theranos, which would be based on a similarly ambitious and potentially game-changing piece of technology. She used the rest of her tuition money to pay for research on a device that would only need a drop of blood to do dozens of health tests, including ones that check for cancer and diabetes.
Elizabeth Holmes’s promise at Theranos
In a country where health care is known to be expensive, it’s not surprising that investors were interested in her invention, the Edison, which promised fast, easy, and cheap blood testing. At the same time, the powerful story Holmes told along with her pitch soon had the world’s media swooning. Her public image as a young woman who ruled in business and looked like the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs got a lot of attention.
“We want to live in a world where no one ever has to say, “I wish I had known sooner.” Holmes said at TEDMED 2014, “I want a world where no one ever has to say goodbye too soon.”
This almost utopian promise never came close to coming true, though, because the Edison machine just didn’t work the way it was supposed to.
Who Is The Dropout Based On
It is and based on the first three episodes of the Hulu miniseries, The Dropout seems to stick closer to what really happened than the average movie or show based on a true story. Most people know that there really was a real-life Holmes who started a company called Theranos that used bad technology and eventually went out of business.
The Dropout is based on a podcast about Holmes’s Theranos scandal with the same name. The podcast had six episodes that came out in early 2019. Because that podcast was so well-liked and was made by ABC News, it was turned into a two-hour episode of 20/20.
The journalist and author John Carreyrou is one of the real-life people portrayed in The Dropout. He looked into Theranos’s false claims for The Wall Street Journal. However, the book he wrote about the scandal, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, which came out in 2018, is not the basis for this miniseries. But it is likely to be used as the basis for a new Holmes/Theranos movie that will star Jennifer Lawrence.
How did Theranos fool everyone?
In the series, The Dropout, Theranos gets a deal to put their technology in Walgreens stores as part of a new “Wellness Centers” initiative. This is all shown to be the result of a very complicated scam. Holmes and her team are able to get around the independent consultant Walgreens hired to evaluate the technology
. At the same time, they create a sense of urgency by making the Walgreens executives think they are also close to making deals with CVS or Safeway. Dr. Jay Rosan (Alan Ruck), the most enthusiastic member of Walgreens’ innovation team, is ultimately the one who gets the other members to agree to the partnership, even though they have never seen Theranos’ technology.
The deal with Walgreens went pretty much the same way in real life. Walgreens did hire an independent lab consultant named Kevin Hunter (Rich Sommer) to check if Theranos’s technology did everything it said it did. Just like in the show, Theranos gave him the runaround and Walgreens didn’t take his serious concerns seriously.
“Dr. J” was the biggest supporter of Theranos, and he was a big reason why the company got the deal with Walgreens. Theranos did use Walgreens’ competition with CVS to get them to agree to the partnership.
Even small details like Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani (Naveen Andrews) following Kevin to the bathroom, the secret sushi lunch, and the awkward karaoke are based on real events (although in real life, Walgreens changed the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine” instead of “What I Like About You” by The Romantics).
The way Theranos worked with the grocery store chain Safeway is the biggest difference between how things went in the show and how they did in real life. In The Dropout, Holmes turns down Walgreens and Safeway at first, which makes them think they’re going after CVS and makes Walgreens want to go after Theranos.
In reality, though, Theranos worked with both Walgreens and Safeway, and Safeway remodeled hundreds of stores to add wellness centers that were supposed to have Theranos devices. But the partnership never got off the ground and was broken up in 2015.
Which characters are real people in The Dropout?
Michaela Watkins attends The Dropout premiere. Amy Sussman/Getty
The Dropout features several real-life characters. Theranos lawyer Linda Tanner (Michaela Watkins) is an exception. Watkins told RadioTimes.com that her persona was an “amalgamation” of the tech startup’s legal team, although she drew some ideas for her performance from the real film from the company’s offices, which has since closed.
She stated, “I kind of walked into her body.” The instant I declared, “OK, I think I know who Linda Tanner is,”… In the documentary, a woman who wasn’t a lawyer said something that made me think about Theranos’ culture. The bullpen was thrilled because the FDA approved one component of their tests.
“Pump Up the Volume was playing, and I noticed this woman dancing like a cult member drinking the Kool-Aid. “That’s who she is,” I thought.
Disney Plus will premiere The Dropout on Thursday, March 3, 2022. See our Drama articles or TV Guide for tonight’s shows. The current Radio Times is on sale. Sign up now to get each issue delivered. Jane Garvey’s Radio Times program features TV’s brightest stars.