‘The Dropout’ Review: Amanda Seyfried Nails Elizabeth Holmes’ Voice Change

Although Hulu’s The Dropout originally cast Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Holmes, this review explains why Amanda Seyfried’s performance is so accurate, it’s shocking. The Mean Girls actor portrays a young Stanford University dropout with one dream: to become a billionaire. She created the biotech startup Theranos — a company that claimed it would revolutionize blood testing by analyzing one tiny drop of blood instead of a large vial. When investors didn’t take her seriously, Holmes deepened her voice to a baritone. Seyfried’s performance of Holmes is spot-on, and the Hulu dramatization does not glamorize the fraudster like Netflix’s Inventing Anna.

'The Dropout': Amanda Seyfried plays a smiling Elizabeth Holmes in her signature black turtle neck and red lipstick standing in front of her Fortune Magazine cover
‘The Dropout’: Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes | Beth Dubber/Hulu

‘The Dropout’ on Hulu review: Amanda Seyfried nailed Elizabeth Holmes’ Voice and Mannerisms

Hulu’s The Dropout Episode 1, “I’m in a Hurry,” introduces viewers to the young and ambitious Elizabeth Holmes. Despite her father’s involvement with Enron, which went bankrupt over an accounting scandal, she grew up in a wealthy family. Seyfried portrays Holmes as a teen boasting about her President Scholar award and early acceptance to Stanford. In the first eight minutes, she calls out a wealthy family friend, played by William H. Macy, for running a fraudulent business. Holmes claimed he filed patents only to take money from firms who he knew would file them in the future. 

Playing Holmes as a teen, Seyfried is a stark contrast to the 2017 deposition tapes portraying adult Holmes as the founder of Theranos. The teen’s voice is quiet and timid. She’s reserved and only explains her ambitions when someone asks her to. Seyfried’s voice is significantly lower and completely baritone when the 2017 deposition plays. 

In episode 2, viewers watch Holmes’ early days of her startup company, and her voice still sounds feminine. However, in The Dropout Episode 3, Nicky Endres portrays a designer from Apple, Ana Arriola. She is inspired by Holmes’ ambition and wants to see another woman succeed in Silicon Valley. However, the former Apple employee tells Holmes to think about her identity and how people view her. That’s when we see the transformation of Seyfried’s voice into Holmes’ signature baritone. She practices in the mirror repeatedly and intensely until she’s satisfied with her new commanding voice. 

The transition gives insight into the inner workings of Holmes’ thoughts and feelings at the time. She felt the pressure to become a more authoritative person so the business world around her would take her more seriously. Seyfried’s performance is so close to real videos of Holmes (like the CBS one above) it’s uncanny.

Review: ‘The Dropout’ does not glamorize Elizabeth Holmes’ crime

After Inventing Anna took the world by storm on Netflix, it’s easy to believe that The Dropout might provide the same true crime drama on Hulu. The two stories sound similar — a young girl attempts to secure millions of dollars through her connections to wealthy individuals. Both Amanda Seyfried and Julia Garner pulled off dynamic changes in their voices. However, after a review, The Dropout does not glamorize Holmes and her fraud like the Shondaland portrayal of Anna Sorokin’s lavish lifestyle. 

RELATED: ‘The Dropout’ Cast: Each Real-Life Person From Elizabeth Holmes’ Life

Hulu’s The Dropout shows how brutally Holmes treated her employees, firing them without warning, requiring them to work through the night. The Dropout is darker and more disturbing than Inventing Anna but quite possibly holds your attention longer for that reason. 

‘The Dropout’ cast is immeasurable and on point

Naveen Andrews shows his full range of acting skills in The Dropout with his portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes’ boyfriend and eventual chief operating officer of the company. It’s hard to believe that the world primarily only knew him as Lost’s Sayid Jarrah. Andrews is the perfect compliment to Seyfried as they both transform from easygoing lovebirds in Beijing, China, to the ruthless leaders of Theranos.

William H. Macy portrays Richard Fuisz from Holme’s real life. The physician, inventor, and ruthless entrepreneur role show a side of Shameless’s Frank Gallagher we could have met if he ever overcame his addictions. Isn’t filing a patent for something he knows Holmes will need down the road right out of Frank Gallagher’s playbook? 

Stephen Fry has our heart as dedicated Ian Gibbons. The chief scientist was so devoted to Holmes and her blood testing vision that he lived and breathed for it. When she unexpectedly fired him for speaking up, our hearts broke for him. 

Alan Ruck’s role is similar to his Succession counterpart, Connor Roy. In The Dropout, he becomes Jay Rosan, a man who manages to convince the head of Walgreens to partner with Holmes’ Theranos without any concrete evidence that the blood testing devices indeed work.

With each new episode, The Dropout cast continues to surprise and amaze. The Dropout premieres the first three episodes on Hulu on March 3, 2022, with each subsequent episode dropping on Thursdays. 

RELATED: ‘Inventing Anna’: 5 Shows Like It to Watch for More True Crime and Con Artists