How ‘The Dropout’ Recasts Sunny Balwani as the Angry Brown Man

The new Hulu series generously gives founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes a back story while only villainizing her counterpart, who faces similar charges of fraud.

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Naveen Andrews and Amanda Seyfried in The Dropout (Hulu)

Sadaf Ahsan


March 24, 2022


9 min

In an era rife with scammers — from the Tinder Swindler to Anna Delvey — none has received more attention than Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of now-defunct health tech company Theranos. She had raised hundreds of millions of dollars on the claim that Theranos had developed a revolutionary tool that could test for multiple diseases with just a few drops of blood.

As anyone who has followed the case knows — whether through journalist John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood, the ABC podcast The Dropout, or Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley — Theranos’s technology was never able to deliver on its promise.

In January, Holmes was found guilty on four counts of fraud. Courts won’t sentence her until September, when she could face a potential 20 years in prison for each of those four counts. But just last week, her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos COO and president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani began his trial, and faces the same charges as his ex. 

The timing, then, of the eight-episode Hulu series The Dropout, starring Amanda Seyfried in an uncanny performance as Holmes and Naveen Andrews as a rather chilling Sunny is, well, perfect. The series, which premiered on March 3, is only the latest in a barrage of creative adaptations attempting to fill the many blanks in Holmes’s story. What this series offers is a vivid peek into the personal and professional relationship between the odd couple at its center — a relationship whose reality we will never truly know.

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