Arts, Culture & Entertainment

‘Inventing Anna’ reminds us that we’re all really strangers

The new Netflix series showcases Anna Sorokin—a German Heiress to some, and a 25-year-old con-artist to others.

Anna Delvey holds up a glass of champagne while cozied up in a felt chair.

I’ve loved every show created by Shonda Rhimes, and “Inventing Anna” is no exception. Rhimes and American Journalist, Jessica Pressler—the reporter who originally interviewed and introduced Anna Sorokin to the world back in May 2018—came together to create this new Netflix series, which is, “completely true. Except for the parts that are totally made up.” Despite having a hatred for the show’s main character, Anna Sorokin, played by Julia Garner, which grew stronger with every episode I watched, I’m not ashamed to admit I binged the series in two days. I couldn’t get enough.

Living life as it appears in magazines was Anna Sorokin’s dream, or Anna Delvey, depending on what name you knew her by. Custom-made couture dresses, exclusive New York parties, private jets to tropical islands, and $400 bottles of wine at dinner were needs, not wants, to her. Despite tricking friends, peers and even investors into thinking she was a German heiress whose trust fund occasionally got frozen by her parents, Anna was broke. With hotel, shopping and dinner bills longer than a mile-long CVS receipt, Anna came off as one of New York’s youngest and wealthiest socialites. When it came to paying for these luxuries, however, Devely had one solution: wire fraud.

Not once during “Inventing Anna” did I like, admire or sympathize with Anna. Her character switches back and forth between being painted as a genius hustler to a fragile German emigrant who got caught up in her own version of the American Dream. Unlike most shows, when it comes to “Inventing Anna,” you’re bound to hate the protagonist, or at least be completely annoyed any time the entitled character’s face comes across the screen (which is inevitable since she is the star of this show, and she makes that crystal clear). If you’re like me, however, you won’t watch the show for Anna; you’ll watch to see the impact her actions had on those around her.

Anna Delvey looking out along with the rest of the crows as one person next to her holds up a phone to record.

In episode 6 of “Inventing Anna,” the lead character takes a quick vacation to Morocco with two of her closest friends, Rachel (Katie Lowes) and Kacy (Laverne Cox), and a close work friend Noah (Christopher Lowell). When her credit cards fail to cover her $60,000 hotel bill in Morocco, the staff forces someone in the group to put a card on hold for the room. With the hotel restricting the three from leaving the property and threatening to call the police, Rachel offers her Vanity Fair company card to be held temporarily while Anna sorts out her fiances and is told the card won’t be charged.

Rachel and Noah find an opportunity to leave Morocco, but to do so they must leave Anna who is being heavily monitored by the hotel staff. However, when she gets back to New York, Rachel goes to cancel her company card and finds that it has been charged with hotel expenses; Anna left and never replaced the payment.

I felt a knot in my stomach grow as Rachel’s face filled with terror, realizing someone she thought was her best friend had simultaneously put her career in danger and left her to repay the company herself or face the legal repercussions.

What’s so intriguing about “Inventing Anna” is that it’s based on real-life events. Anna and the false identity she created for herself are part of a real-life scenario—one that most people believe they’ll never encounter.

When you are introduced to someone, you don’t question whether they are being honest about their identity. We assume the name, job, hometown and other basic details of someone’s life being shared with us are the truth. Anna makes us second guess this natural instinct to take someone for their word and trust they are being honest.

Anna didn’t just con businessmen and corporate companies into loaning her money. She conned her friends and romantic partners as well. Everyone and their feelings were just collateral damage to Anna whose main objective was to be “somebody.” Anna, who spent some nights homeless, didn’t care about her reality. She cared about public perception. And in a world where an individual’s follower count is their most valuable asset, “Inventing Anna” shows the extreme lengths an individual may go through to make their life appear perfect.

“Inventing Anna” can be viewed on Netflix as of Feb. 11.