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Kate McKinnon Is Playing Elizabeth Holmes and Honestly This Just Feels Right

McKinnon will bring her wide-eyed energy to play the Theranos founder in Hulu's The Dropout.

kate mckinnon will play theranos founder elizabeth holmes in hulu's the dropout

Sometimes, a bit of casting news comes out that is so good, so on-point, that you find yourself alone in front of your laptop, clapping with glee like a maniac. At least that was my response when I found out that Kate McKinnon would be playing Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. McKinnon will star in the Hulu limited series The Dropout, based on the popular ABC Radio/ABC News podcast from host and creator Rebecca Jarvis.

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Jarvis, the ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent, will executive produce the series. No other cast members or showrunners have been announced. For those of you living under a rock, Elizabeth Holmes was a Stanford dropout (hence the title) who founded med-tech company Theranos based on a revolutionary new approach to blood analysis and lab work. Her machine, the Edison, would be able to scan and diagnoses hundreds of results from a single drop of blood, an advancement so great that the company was soon valued at nearly $10 billion dollars. The only catch? None of the tech worked and the entire enterprise was a fraud.

If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos scandal. Holmes’ massive fraud comes at a time when we are collectively obsessed with scammers. Everyone from Holmes to the Fyre Festival bros to even our scammer president and his scammy cabinet have come under scrutiny. And for good reason: it is fascinating to see how far a con can go when it’s piloted by over-confident wealthy white folks. And isn’t that a metaphor for America if there ever was one?

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the scam is Holmes herself: an inscrutable figure whose unblinking intensity and false lowered voice managed to con some of the wealthiest, most influential people in America, including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, former secretary of defense James Mattis, Rupert Murdoch and Betsy DeVos. With only the vaguest of scientific explanations and a frankly off-putting zealous commitment to her lie, Holmes was able to leverage Theranos to dizzying heights.

Such wide-eyed zeal and commitment is a perfect match for McKinnon’s skill set. She’s made a career out of playing bizarre, overly committed characters, including Kellyanne Conway and DeVos. While this one of McKinnon’s first forays into drama, I have no doubt that she’ll be more than up to the task to channel Holmes’s singular intensity.

The Theranos scandal has been the subject of podcasts, the book Bad Blood by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, and Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. In addition, a feature film based on Bad Blood is in the works, with Adam McKay (Vice) directing and Jennifer Lawrence starring as Holmes.

What do you think of the casting? Are you excited to see McKinnon in a dramatic role?

(via Variety, image: NBC/HBO)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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