Inventing Anna is based on an expose about a fake German heiress who manipulated and scammed the social elite in New York in search of an unattainable utopia
Following the success of true-crime adaptations like The Tinder Swindler and Catfish, Netflix has released Inventing Anna, the story of how a 20 something Russian girl managed to con New York’s A-listers. Directed by Shonda Rhimes and starring Julia Garner as the titular character, the series portrays not only the extent of her scam, but how it managed to turn her into a phenomenon following extensive media attention.
The first two episodes feature Anna’s ‘futurist’ boyfriend, and an older mentor who is also a socialite, laying the groundwork for future events. Following these, the story begins to pick up as viewers are introduced to Alan Reed (played by Anthony Edwards), a lawyer who wants to help Anna make her plans for an art club a reality. Reed really does fall for Anna’s facade and thinks she is a young woman in need of some financial and legal advice in regard to her club. He even puts her in touch with potential investors in order to get her project off the ground. The interactions between Anna and Reed on-screen are an accurate parallel to their real life counterparts, as it says in the Jessica Pressler expose that Reed was fully committed and answered her calls while on holiday.
The series also focuses on the relation between Anna Delvey (played by Alexis Floyd) and Ness Davis, a concierge at the hotel Anna stays at. Perhaps her only real friend in the series, and in real life, Ness easily gets caught up in the intrigue of Anna’s lifestyle which mainly consists of tipping everyone at least a 100 dollars, dining out at the most exclusive restaurants and rubbing shoulders with New York socialites. Ness is the only character in Inventing Anna who does not provide any kind of financial or social benefit to Anna, and yet she is still lavished with generous tips and clothing.
While nearly everything in the series was based on a lie, one thing was very, very real; the delusion. Anna truly did think that her dream of opening an art club would eventually pan out, which would explain the extreme defensiveness and lack of remorse apparent in her answers while she is speaking to an interviewer in prison.
Towards the last few episodes, Anna’s schemes begin to unravel as her inability to pay hotel and restaurant bills, as well as loans from friends, begin to emerge. Rachel Williams (played by Katie Lowes) is the most wronged party here perhaps, as she is stuck footing a $62,000 bill for a luxury vacation in the series, and real life, which is what prompts her to compare notes with people she’s seen Anna with.
Although the expose covering Anna’s stint as a fake heiress was published in 2018, this series has renewed interest in the case and once again thrust Anna Sorokin, her real name, into the spotlight. Ironically, she has ended up making more money by selling life rights to her story for $320,000, than she did trying to get rich people to fund her lifestyle. While nearly everything in the series was based on a lie, one thing was very, very real; the delusion. Anna truly did think that her dream of opening an art club would eventually pan out. This would explain the extreme defensiveness and lack of remorse apparent in her answers while speaking to an interviewer in prison.
While the series features input from the journalist who broke the story and Anna herself, there are also some instances of exaggeration as Shonda Rhimes takes creative liberties. All in all, Inventing Anna has been an insightful watch into the world of white collar crime that is increasingly commonplace in elite circles.
The author is a staff member