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The Dropout Reviews Are In, What Did Critics Think Of Amanda Seyfried’s Hulu Series?

Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes.
(Image credit: Hulu)

The upcoming Hulu drama series The Dropout will star Amanda Seyfried and tell the true story of the health technology company Theranos and its disgraced CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Ripped from the headlines, The Dropout explores the woman who faces jail time after being convicted of defrauding investors out of more than $700 million in an elaborate scheme. Critics have gotten to screen seven of the series’ eight episodes, so let’s see what the reviews have to say about this series.

Amanda Seyfried stars as Elizabeth Holmes — though she won’t be affecting Holmes’ infamous baritone voice — and Naveen Andrews as Sunny Balwani, Theranos COO and Holmes’ love interest. The Dropout, based on the podcast of the same name, also boasts an impressive supporting cast, with such names as William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf, Kate Burton, and Sam Waterston. Is this one you’ll want to add to your watchlist? Let’s find out:

Caroline Framke of Variety is thoroughly impressed with The Dropout, saying that the series triumphs where other “based on a true story” projects have failed. With an HBO series and Adam McKay movie on the way about the Theranos story, the Hulu series sets a high bar:

There are so many different avenues the series could go down, so many perspectives to mine, so many bizarre beats it could’ve hammered home with grim resolve. Instead, it combines the inherent gravitas of Theranos’ collapse with the comedic timing of creator Elizabeth Meriweather (‘New Girl’) and director Michael Showalter (‘The Big Sick’) to dig into both the pathos and the absurdity of every wild turn this story takes. What’s more, in a huge coup for the power of editing a show down despite it airing on a streaming network with no time constraints, the series convincingly covers almost 20 years of material without a single episode running over an hour long.

Not nearly as impressed, however, is Darren Franich of EW. He grades the series a C, arguing that The Dropout takes three hours to get started, and then doesn’t really get interesting until Episode 7: 

[Showrunner Liz] Meriwether has a long sitcom track record, and hallowed Wet Hot American Summer Michael Showalter alum directs key episodes. Theranos is certainly a funny story, in a modern-capitalism-is-anti-human sort of way. But The Dropout often uses comedy as a crutch, aiming way too often for that Pam & Tommy tone of needle-drop hysteria. Everyone seems encouraged to go big.

Daniel Fienberg of THR says that with a number of fraudster depictions hitting the small screen, Amanda Seyfried makes this one stand out, along with a scene-stealing supporting cast. While there’s nothing necessarily revolutionary here, The Dropout’s strengths overrule any major complaints: 

Was Elizabeth Holmes brilliant? A brilliant charlatan? Or was she an attractive cipher into whom people read attributes she never possessed? The Dropout and Seyfried’s performance leave boundless room for disparate conclusions or, probably more appropriately, to decide that the series is applying conclusions to a person whose actual identity is completely unknowable. There are times Seyfried is approaching Holmes as a mad genius, sometimes as a youthful innocent and occasionally as something borderline monstrous; if you don’t feel like she lands on any one thing, I’m guessing that’s intentional.

Steve Greene of IndieWire grades The Dropout a B, saying the Hulu series is a pretty straightforward account of events, but the performances of Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews make it worth watching.  

‘The Dropout’ reaches for slivers of paranoid thriller, high-stakes financial drama, and boardroom farce without fully cashing in on the best parts of either. In the absence of ‘The Dropout’ having much to add to the existing perception of Holmes, it’s up to Seyfried to do a lot of the heavy lifting. In doing so, she wisely navigates that middle ground between Holmes’ initial public branding as the premier 2010s girlboss and the competing perception of her as a spoiled sociopath who refused to accept any version of ‘no.’ The biggest decision that ‘The Dropout’ makes is to paint Holmes as someone more prone to self-delusion than maliciousness.

Thelma Adams of The Wrap is a little underwhelmed by the series’ pacing, but applauds the cast, particularly Naveen Andrews, and said its impressive supporting cast is well-used. 

As a character, Holmes comes in and out of focus over the course of the drama, which loses its urgency in its midsection. It lacks the cliffhangers that hook a binger to continue with the next episode, and the next. The series regains its narrative drive toward the end as her Ponzi scheme crashes, toppling the many male board members and investors.

The reviews for The Dropout are truly mixed, from some critics thinking this sets the bar for “based on a true story” series, to those who feel there was nothing propelling them to the next episode. The first three episodes of The Dropout will be available for streaming on Hulu on March 3, with new episodes of the eight-episode series coming each Thursday. Also be sure to check out some of the best shows on Hulu, and stay tuned to our 2022 TV Schedule for upcoming premiere dates.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.