How Accurate Is “The Dropout”? What's Real and What's Not

Everett Collection / Hulu/Courtesy Everett Collection

Watching “The Dropout” miniseries on Disney+ means being enthralled by the real-life story of Elizabeth Holmes (played by Amanda Seyfried), the once-visionary, now-disgraced Silicon Valley CEO who kept her reputation and biotech company Theranos afloat on a sea of lies and deception that ultimately saw Holmes convicted on four out of 11 counts of conspiracy and fraud in January 2022. Most scenes depicted in “The Dropout” are based on facts and real people, but a dramatisation with this much scandal can make anyone wonder whether every detail written into the script – down to the green juices and Steve Jobs-esque black turtlenecks – is true.

Disney+’s “The Dropout” is based on the 2019 ABC podcast of the same name produced by Rebecca Jarvis, who also served as an executive producer for the Disney+ series. In the podcast, Jarvis interviews former employees, partners, investors, patients, and acquaintances to tell Holmes’s story, from the CEO’s beginnings to the ultimate collapse of Theranos. But there are other retellings, including the book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou (the Wall Street Journal reporter who first exposed Theranos in 2015) and its companion documentary on HBO “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”

So while there are many truths “The Dropout” gets right, perfecting scientific discovery (and the ideal biopic for entertainment lovers everywhere) is in the details. Let’s prick our fingers and test for a few facts versus fiction in Disney+ “The Dropout.”

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