Just recently, on 11 February 2022, Netflix dropped a new arrival. Inventing Anna (USA, 2022) is a Netflix mini-series created and produced by Shonda Rhimes. The series was inspired by Jessica Pressler’s article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” in 2018. If you are not familiar with the true crime story, let me warn you of spoilers ahead.
The 9 almost hour-long (more or less) episodes are about Anna Delvey a.k.a. Anna Sorokin, a 25-year old Russian who claims to be a German heiress and scammed some of New York’s elite from 2013 to 2017.
The series starts with pregnant Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) working as a journalist for Manhattan magazine and defying her editors to write an article about #MeToo in Wall Street. Instead, she suggests writing about Anna Delvey (Julia Garner) who is scheduled to be arraigned that day in court.
Each episode focuses on a particular character’s perspective of Anna Delvey as a person. Vivian interviews her close friends, her lawyer, her boyfriend, and a few of the rich and famous people with whom Anna got involved. As she gets more information about Anna, she starts to root for her.
As the story unfolds with each episode, viewers get the true story about Anna. She was born in Russia and her family migrated to Germany when she was 16. She loves reading magazines and began dreaming big. When she reaches New York, she started presenting herself as Anna Delvey, a German heiress who has a trust fund worth 60 million euros. She plans to create the Anna Delvey Foundation, a private members’ club, and art foundation. She started pitching it to banks, architects, real estate brokers, and a few rich people. She dines in fancy restaurants and stays in hotels. But problems start kicking in when it’s pay time, her credit cards couldn’t get through and someone ends up paying for it. She promises to reimburse via wire transfer but no wire transfer came.
Vivian, on her part, also had a share of a bad reputation. A few years ago, she had written an article that list things about New York. However, one item in the list was found to be a lie, and the person she interviewed claims that he was coerced to say that lie, which of course is not true. Now, she puts all her energy into this article in order for her to redeem herself.
Since it is a true story, the plot is almost linear to present a timeline of events leading to the trial and verdict. Vivian’s interviews require a presentation of flashbacks which reminds me of Shonda Rhimes’ How To Get Away With Murder. The setting and production design bring you to the world of the rich and famous. The conflict between Vivian and Anna is strong that it glued me to watch until the wee hours of the morning. It keeps me asking, who is the real Anna Sorokin?
Throughout the series, Anna is consistent with her narcissistic behavior and delusion of grandeur. There is no remorse or admission of guilt in the end, even if she was found guilty in 8 out of 10 counts of charges. You could not hate her because she has that convincing charm that says that she should not be hated. Yet, you know that she is a first-class con artist.
During the opening credits, there is a disclaimer that says “This whole story is completely true except for all the parts that are totally made up.” If you are not familiar with the true crime story, you may ask which part is true and which part is totally made up. Some names of persons and places were changed like Vivian Kent is not a real person and 12 George is a representation of 11 Howard, the hotel where Anna stayed for months.
The 9 episodes were worth binge-watching. It was entertaining that I’m rating it 5 out of 5 stars.