New Hulu series 'The Dropout' based on popular Rebecca Jarvis podcast

BySandy Kenyon via OTRC logo
Friday, March 4, 2022
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Disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes is the subject of a new Hulu series called "The Dropout," starring Amanda Seyfried. Sandy Kenyon has more on the new limited series.

Elizabeth Holmes, the entrepreneur who built a multi-billion dollar company that failed due to fraud, is the subject of a new series called "The Dropout" on Hulu -- where you will also find an episode of "20/20" devoted to her case after it airs Friday on ABC.

The title refers to the fact Holmes left Stanford University to start Theranos when she was just 19 years old.

"The Dropout" is also the title of an ABC News podcast hosted by Rebecca Jarvis.

For millions of viewers, the Hulu show is what my very British father used to call, "a corking good tale," and it's a show I heartily recommend. But for ABC's Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent, the series was a full circle moment.

It comes 8 years after she first began covering Holmes, so a trip to the Los Angeles set of the movie last fall was, to use her word, "surreal."

"There are so many details here," she said.

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Amanda Seyfriend plays Holmes.

"They did such a good job" recreating the sets," she said.

The two got together where fiction meets fact, at the intersection where art imitates life -- so closely here the lines truly do get blurry.

"It was incredibly powerful to walk in and see this story, that I've spent so much time researching and engaging with, come to life," Jarvis said.

The origins of all this lie in her podcast, the now familiar music and her familiar intro: "I'm Rebecca Jarvis, and this is 'The Dropout.'"

Among the tens of millions of listeners was Seyfried, who earned her first Oscar nomination last year and became a fan of the podcast long before she was cast in the adaptation.

"There's something very calming about Rebecca," she said. "There's something very fair about Rebecca and her journalism, the way she speaks about things, the way she articulates them, the questions she asks. The whole team of them did an amazing job."

The Hulu show is created by one of TV's most successful young producers, Liz Meriwether, who is known for sitcoms like "New Girl."

"Her process, in many respects, was similar to a journalist in that she asked more questions," Jarvis said. "She had more conversations. She dug deeper."

That proved timely when the script had to be changed during filming to reflect the new developments in the case.

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The "20/20" episode makes for a nice companion piece, because it takes viewers behind the scenes of the show while bringing them up to date on the aftermath of Holmes' conviction for fraud.

For Jarvis, the experience of seeing her podcast transformed into a TV show has ultimately been reward.

"Elizabeth Holmes is an enigma to so many people," she said. "And, the voice, the body movement, all of the elements of who she is are perfectly displayed by Amanda Seyfried."

Naveen Andrews is a perfect match for her, playing Holmes' former lover and advisor Sunny Balwani.

"The Dropout" streams on Hulu, owned by Disney, the same parent company as this ABC station.