Thursday, March 3, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Dropout' - Elizabeth Holmes Is Determined to Become a Billionaire With an Innovative Medical Device in 'I'm in a Hurry'

Hulu's The Dropout - Episode 1.01 "I'm in a Hurry"

Elizabeth Holmes, an optimistic and determined young woman, drops out of Stanford to found a promising new blood testing startup.

"I'm in a Hurry" was written by Elizabeth Meriwether and directed by Michael Showalter

In 2017, Elizabeth Holmes is the subject of a deposition. She is being questioned about her company Theranos - which got its name by combining therapy and diagnose. She is asked about her personal and professional relationship with Sunny Balwani. She is asked about the fraudulent claims of her company's product and what she told investors. It's all serious stuff. The series is seen as Holmes reflecting back on this journey. It's all done to contrast with her answers. She claims she doesn't recall specific details. And yet, the series presents her as a young woman who has always been determined. She knew exactly what she wanted from a young age. Before she even went to Stanford, she knew she would study bioengineering with the hopes of creating a product that would change the world and make her a billionaire. That can seem awfully on-the-nose. It may be to a certain extent too. It also plays into the overall narrative of discrimination she faced. Everywhere she went she had to prove herself. She was determined to succeed no matter what. She had the smarts to get into any room that wanted to kick her out. She was upset with her peers who didn't take the work as seriously as she did. That also forms a strong connection to Sunny as he seems built from the same cloth even though he is nearly two decades older than her. The show plays into the creepiness of it all. Their relationship could be characterized as grooming. After their time in China, it does present as a friendship that exists solely over the phone. They rely on each other to feel secure in their lives. They place all their hopes and dreams on each other. That security is rare to find. It's worthwhile for those who do. It's understandable why they want to hold onto it no matter what. It can also be absolutely crushing given the ages involved. Elizabeth doesn't know how the world works. She's ready to change it. Her first idea is shot down because Dr. Phyllis Gardner says it would never work with how people behave in the real world. She has that expertise. She is thrilled to be teaching the next generation of leaders. She is ready for people to innovate her profession and make it better. She has the wisdom to know which ideas can offer that revolution. Elizabeth doesn't have it even though she is persistent. That quality got her into a graduate-level research program as a freshman. She proved herself as smarter than everyone else in the room. That can't be denied. It's also true her immaturity hobbles her along this journey. She is constantly told to be a young woman in college. She shouldn't place this extreme burden on herself. She doesn't listen.

Elizabeth Holmes is drawn to people with the same grit she has. She idolizes the innovators with posters on her walls. She envisions a life of being put up there besides them. It's an honorable and noble ideal. It's also done to prove everyone who doubted her wrong. That includes the professors at Stanford as well as the family friend upset he wasn't consulted about her startup. Elizabeth even believes she isn't gaining anything from her college experience. Instead, it's a continuation of being shunned even in the face of a serious crime. She is raped on campus and her mother is the only person who believes her. That's heartbreaking. The advice she is given isn't that healthy either. She is told to forget about it and she'll eventually be okay. That makes it even more traumatic when another danger comes flying through her window. It's all meant to draw out sympathy for her. Even though she's young, Elizabeth has endured many grueling experiences. Those have shaped her into the woman she is. She relies on Sunny for support. She places her sense of self-worth on that dynamic. It turns romantic after a stray bullet almost hits her. That truly would have been life-changing. This still represents a turning point. She is dropping out of college. She sees that as nothing more than a pattern that must be followed. She doesn't fit in this environment. Not everyone does. Just because someone studies what they're passionate about for years doesn't equal how qualified they actually are. Elizabeth sees the benefits of building out her company. She has an idea and supporters. Channing Robertson may only join because he trusts her and doesn't want to miss out on a great opportunity like he has in the past. That too should be a warning sign. He can't trust his judgment for what is and isn't a good idea. The determination is there to make this a successful product. The only person who has said no isn't involved. She plays no role in Elizabeth's decision. Neither does her sexual assault. She is pursuing a new path. But again, it leads her to legal troubles where she is facing punishment for lying to investors and the public. Her explanation has to be better than not being able to recall details about her own company. Her entire life has been studied and calculated. And so, the creation of Theranos extends out from that personality as the true expression of what Elizabeth Holmes always dreamed of.