Who Cares?: Theranos, the scandal that will never dry out

Amanda Seyfried stars as Elizabeth Holmes, the infamous CEO of defunct startup Theranos, in Hulu’s “The Dropout.” The scandal around her downfall and prison sentence continues to be adapted to new media forms. (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

Personally, I can’t do most true crime. Even just talking about blood and murder makes me nauseous — flashback to laying down in the backseat with my eyes closed because my sister and mom insisted on listening to true crime podcasts the entirety of our eight-hour road trip last summer. Don’t even try to recommend “Serial” or “My Favorite Murder” to me — I’m weak, I can’t do it. 

Despite true crime’s ethically-murky portrayal (and possible exploitation) of victims’ stories, it is an increasingly popular genre. There’s always a new docuseries to watch on Netflix and Hulu. Golden Globe nominee “Only Murders in the Building” even takes a dig at those obsessed with the genre. 

While I often miss out on the latest and greatest true crime documentaries, I make an exception for one special type of true crime: scammers and scandals.

The summer post-Fyre Festival was like a feast for me — unlike for the people at the festival who were given untoasted bread and cheese — I was eating up every movie and article on the topic that I could get my hands on. 

We just got “Inventing Anna,” which I similarly devoured. Anna (Julia Garner) may not have time for you, but I certainly had enough time to ignore my midterms to watch her antics. I already knew the Anna Delvey story, and the show itself was almost embarrassing to watch, yet I watched it and the subsequent YouTube videos on what the show got right and wrong. 

However, Delvey doesn’t hold a candle to the true celebrity of scandals: the one and only Elizabeth Holmes. From award-winning podcasts to HBO documentaries and a future Jennifer Lawrence-led feature film, there seems to be no end to the Holmes content. Amanda Seyfried herself is getting involved in the action in Hulu’s “The Dropout”. 

“The Dropout” is the newest addition to the Theranos-themed media collection. The mini-series follows the same story detailed in the book, podcast and documentary, but people continue to watch. Hundreds of tweets come out hourly about the show even days after that week’s episode. 

What makes Holmes’ story so much more compelling than other scandals?

After a few articles, the Anna Delvey content gets a bit repetitive, and I haven’t heard anything about the Fyre Festival for months. Yet, each new piece of media that comes out about Holmes is filled with as much passion as back in 2015 when the scandal first blew up. 

On a superficial level, it’s a juicy scandal. Past that, there is a level of satisfaction ingrained in her story. Many of the major tech conglomerates of Silicon Valley continue to grow in power and wealth with little to no oversight.

It is well known that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are no strangers to scandals and criticisms, with Zuckerberg even having to testify in front of Congress. Movies such as director David Fincher’s “The Social Network” expose the ugly side of Zuckerberg and the creation of the company. However, Zuckerberg is still the CEO of Meta and a multi-billionaire. 

I’m not anti-Silicon Valley. It’s where I grew up, and I love a lot of the tech that has come from it. I am constantly on Instagram, and over spring break, I even went to the new Facebook offices to try the new coffee shop (very expensive and disappointing, do not recommend). However, the lack of accountability for the corporations is disheartening. 

What’s unique about Holmes and the now-defunct Theranos is that they were actually met with consequences for their actions — she’s facing 20 years in prison. 

Theranos and Holmes were the shining stars of the Valley. The technology of Theranos was going to change the world and make tons of money. Holmes was hailed as the “next Steve Jobs” and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year at Glamour’s Women of the Year awards. She had Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison on her side — she should have been untouchable. Not to mention, Holmes is wealthy and white, making her a part of a demographic that is less likely to go to prison. 

The outcome of the scandal isn’t perfect by any means. Most of what Holmes is being charged with involves wealthy investors. The patients that were exploited for results and lied to are still waiting for justice. Also, although Holmes will get prison time eventually, for now, she is still living in her 135 million dollar mansion. Still, the case of Theranos and Holmes is comforting, as it shows that there are possible repercussions to fraud in what seems like an unregulated industry. 

Kimberly Aguirre is a freshman dissecting the most off-base entertainment news. Her column, “Who Cares?” runs every other Wednesday.