“The Dropout”‘s finale leaves numerous unanswered issues, while the tale of the actual individuals behind the program continues to develop.
“The Dropout”, a Hulu original series, follows the tale of Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of Theranos who scammed investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and while the limited series has come to an end, her story is far from done. The limited series is based on the ABC podcast of the same name and follows the true-to-life tale of the college dropout who was once dubbed the world’s youngest millionaire. The interesting and weird narrative of medical malpractice and wire fraud is so tragic that it’s one of the few true-crime shows that rival documentaries in quality.
Amanda Seyfried plays Elizabeth Holmes in “The Dropout“. She does an outstanding job conveying the fraudster’s different parts of life in the limited series, from childhood to young CEO to being indicted on 11 charges of fraud. However, the real-life narrative is still unfolding, as Sunny Balwani (played by Naveen Andrews), Theranos’ COO, is awaiting prosecution, and Holmes is awaiting punishment.
The Hulu limited series was compelled to leave numerous story details out in the air in order to stay as authentic as possible. What happened to the characters, including Elizabeth and Sunny, as well as Theranos and the whistleblowers, are among them. Because the characters in “The Dropout” are based on actual people, the program had to work with minimal information throughout production. Creators filled in any holes they could near the conclusion of production with a few small cards at the end of episode 8. Despite the brevity of the descriptions, many viewers were left wondering what occurred following the events of “The Dropout”. The ending of “The Dropout” is described here.
Sunny Balwani: What Happened To Him?
In the last episode of “The Dropout”, Elizabeth and Sunny have a complex interaction in which they express their genuine love for one another. After the publication of devastating headlines about Theranos, Sunny begins covertly contacting a lawyer to construct his own case, not wanting to be legally linked to the deceitful CEO. When Elizabeth learns this, she begins to gaslight him, claiming that she did nothing wrong and that he must explain her what he did wrong. “The Dropout” closely mirrors the genuine tale in this sense, with Holmes continuing her tendency of claiming any responsibility for Theranos’ problems despite repeatedly declaring that she is in control as CEO. This dialogue implies that she intends to make Sunny a scapegoat by saying that she followed his example and was too young to know better. Without Sunny’s agreement, she ultimately informs the board that Sunny has decided to resign.
A federal grand jury indicted the real-life Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani in June 2018 on nine charges of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to conduct wire fraud. His jury was chosen in March, but the trial was postponed due to COVID-19 issues, and he has yet to go to trial as of the beginning of April 2022. His attorneys are expected to employ an argument similar to Holmes’, arguing he couldn’t have committed fraud because he never received any money from Theranos.
What Happened to Tyler Shultz and Erika Chung, Two Whistleblowers?
Because of their role in exposing Theranos, many viewers have been left wondering what happened to “The Dropout”‘s Theranos whistleblowers. Tyler Shultz (Dylan Minnette) and Erika Cheung (Camryn Mi-young Kim) uncover Elizabeth’s falsehoods in the final few episodes and begin looking for methods to expose others to the company’s risky practices. Tyler’s grandpa, George Shultz (Sam Waterston), who has established a reputation for himself in politics and sits on the board of Theranos, is furious with his grandson for telling writer John Carreyrou a falsehood about Theranos (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Shultz goes so far as to accuse his own grandchild of being a liar. Finally, Tyler visits Carreyrou and gives him a statement in which he retracts his previous statements. Unfortunately, before dying away last year, the actual George Shultz never publicly apologized to Tyler for how he treated him, but he did finally inform Tyler that he did the right thing.
Viewers who are curious what happened to Erika Cheung after she resigned from Theranos will be glad to learn that she went on to co-found the non-profit organization Ethics in Entrepreneurship and testified against Elizabeth during her trial for three days. She is currently a Betatron adviser, and she continues to collaborate with Tyler Shultz, an advisor for Ethics in Entrepreneurship. Tyler also created his own firm, Flux Biosciences, and continues to seek to make medical testing more accessible, this time by investigating ways to allow people to obtain medical diagnostics from the comfort of their own homes.
When did Theranos go out of business?
During the real-life events depicted in “The Dropout” in 2016, CMS alerted Theranos that its primary lab had put patients in “immediate peril” (via CNN). After that, Walgreens declined to send any further lab samples to the California store. During this time, Elizabeth Holmes’ phony deep voice was on full display in both the program and real life, as she delivered a bungled interview about the results, refusing to accept culpability. Several months later, she and Balwani were both warned by the CMS, who said that if they didn’t make the necessary modifications, Theranos would face a two-year suspension from the blood-testing industry.
Following Sunny’s departure, Theranos chose to cancel two years’ worth of test results, and Walgreens broke relations with the firm altogether a few weeks later. Elizabeth’s license was cancelled by the CMS in July 2016, thereby barring her from doing any additional lab tests for at least two years. The firm was sued by Walgreens and an investor for the rest of the year. Sunny Balwani and Elizabeth Holmes, who is enamored with Steve Jobs, were charged with criminal fraud in June of 2018. A few months later, Theranos was officially shut down. Due to Theranos’ collapse, 800 individuals lost their jobs, and Holmes and Balwani’s deception cost investors $700 million and resulted in 7.8 million incorrect test results.
After dropping out, Elizabeth Holmes had a new lease on life.
In the last minutes of “The Dropout”, Elizabeth interacts with a young 20-something called Billy (Garrett Coffey), who refers to her as Lizzy rather than Elizabeth, symbolizing her mental transition into the next chapter of her life. In a concluding montage, she tells her enraged former lawyer Linda Tanner (Michaela Watkins) that Billy is her lover, proving Amanda Seyfried’s casting as Elizabeth Holmes was spot on. Tanner retorts that she’s regressing in life and has “harmed people.”
In real life, Elizabeth and Billy Evans began dating in 2017 and gave birth to a son in 2021. After Holmes made multiple severe allegations of mental and physical abuse against Sunny (which he has denied), a federal court ordered that they be prosecuted separately rather than together. While the claims of abuse have yet to be verified, viewers should not take “The Dropout”‘s depiction of their relationship at face value. In January 2022, Holmes was found guilty on four charges of fraud, and her sentence, which may include up to 20 years in prison per count, is set for September.
Beyond “The Dropout” : Elizabeth Holmes’ Legacy
However, due to Elizabeth Holmes’ tarnished reputation, women in Silicon Valley have battled even more. The toxic aftermath of the events shown in “The Dropout” has had such an influence that male investors continue to blame Theranos for their increased anxiety and unwillingness to invest in female-led businesses. Heather Bowerman, the founder and CEO of the medical firm DotLab, explained: “It’s much more difficult when the most visible female founder in our industry is linked to fraud… Because of what appears to be a scam at Theranos, the scientific and technological threshold has been increased.” (Image courtesy of Yahoo! Finance) It’s undoubtedly a double standard; in the past, male founders and CEOs of software and medical businesses have been charged and convicted of corruption and unlawful actions, while other men have not been affected. But it’s still the truth of Elizabeth Holmes’ devastation, with the consequences of her deception still being felt today.