By Doly Mallet
Jeez! It seems like we are now in a post #MeToo era, in which, unfortunately, people are hunting down women who lie. A backlash to the movement has started, because, after all, any alleged victim can actually be another Amber Heard, walking around freely, so beware of all these “nasty women.”
This turn of events is regrettable, and the spotlight on these individuals hurts a movement that, at some point, sought to highlight the importance of initially believing victims. But, yes, it is also infuriating when we learn about cases of untrustworthy women, such as Elizabeth Holmes. Haven’t heard of her? Then just watch The Dropout.
Elizabeth Holmes (played by an amazing Amanda Seyfried) is a very smart millennial with plenty of creative ideas; she is one of the most brilliant kids in her school. Like any innocent twentysomething, she thinks she can change the world.
Innocent, yes, but also a little narcissistic. Elizabeth thinks she is smarter than she is and decides to drop out of college (that’s where the series title comes from). She believes she is a genius, too good for school; she can beat Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg any day. During an exchange program, she meets Sunny Balwani (Lost alum Naveen Andrews), 19 years her senior, and they start a weird relationship– first, as platonic friends, then as lovers, then as partners. They decide to found Theranos, a biotechnology company that claims to provide accurate and complete health analyses to their customers, from whom they only need one drop of blood.
Elizabeth is able to garner attention from wealthy people who invest millions in her business. Not only because it sounds appealing, but because Elizabeth sells the idea that no one is supporting women, that the patriarchy is not allowing her to succeed, but hey! She is as intelligent and maybe even more innovative than the famous tech guys in Silicon Valley. A plus: Holmes is a beautiful blue-eyed blonde. She quickly landed the cover of Forbes magazine, which described her as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. Too bad when it turns out the plan she and Balwani have is actually too good to be true. The pair can’t achieve its goals. It doesn’t matter how smart they are; the technology is simply not there yet. But quitting is not an option. Better to commit fraud and start lying to the investors, and, worse still, to the clients that use their products.
The Dropout (based a the podcast by the same name) falls into the category of the new bio-shows that portray fraudulent and egotistic people of our time, like Inventing Anna, The Tinder Swindler, and We Crashed. Apparently, we are in an era in which, thanks to social networks and the internet, it is super easy to commit fraud, scam people, and, of course, create identities that are not truthful. Inventing Anna, however, transformed Anna Delvy into an infamous celebrity. Fortunately, We Crashed (based on the WeWork founders), and The Dropout are clearly cautionary tales in which we as viewers grow to despise the main characters and wish them an unhappy ending.
In the case of Holmes, she was found guilty of many crimes, and is still waiting for the final verdict this September. During her trial, she tried to play the #MeToo card, arguing that Balwani abused her and that she couldn’t think clearly. It is infuriating when scammers like her play the victim. Still, if the law doesn’t give her the sentence she deserves, at least this show has discredited her, even though it doesn’t offer a fully satisfying ending... because it hasn’t arrived yet in real life.
Doly Mallet is a professional film/TV critic and bestselling author.
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