Hate-watching Anna Delvey in “Inventing Anna” should be a sport
2022 is slowly becoming Netflix’s era of true crime entertainment. From Tinder Swindler, a film documentary centering on one Simon Leviev who romances women on a dating app then takes their money, and now Inventing Anna, chronicling Anna Delvey infamy after scamming Manhattan’s elite.
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In May of 2018, New York Magazine published a searing investigative feature on one Anna Delvey (real last name Sorokin) by Jessica Pressler, which took the internet by storm. (Fun fact: Pressler’s 2015 article The Hustlers at Scores is the basis of the 2019 film, Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu.) Posing as a German heiress with daddy issues and a big, fat inheritance, Anna schemed and lied her way to charm and steal from New York’s high society.
“My life is performance art,” Anna’s Twitter bio reads. A sugarcoated way of saying she’s a con artist, who’s embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from her victims. It’s a modern tale of financial fraud in a Digital Age where influence is currency. After all, there’s not a tool more effective in deception than social media, where you can be whatever version of yourself—well, that is, until someone holds you accountable.
In the first week since its release, Netflix reports users streamed 77.3 million hours of Inventing Anna. The Shondaland production has produced the most hateable character on TV at the moment. A pathological liar, socialite wannabe donned in head-to-toe designer garb living in boutique hotels yet doesn’t want to work a day in her life? Cry me a river. In a culture of excess and overt displays of wealth, a life of frugality appalled one Anna Delvey. And that exasperating accent—merging Russian, German and Valley Girl (almost Karen-like)—is as phony as the life she lived. Yet nobody would have played this “poor” character better than Emmy Award-winning actress, Julia Garner, of Ozark fame. (I loved to hate her, she was brilliant.)
I am part of the staggering population that hate-watched Inventing Anna. They tried their best to humanize her, but at the end of it, I still feel no empathy for the sociopathic narcissist who still believes she did no wrong. (Did we really need that whole episode in Germany? I think not.) Maybe this is because we can’t really separate real-life Anna from TV Anna. Case in point: In May of 2019, Sorokin was sentenced to prison for four to twelve years after conning banks, hotels and wealthy friends, making them believe she had a fortune of about $67 million. A day after receiving her sentence, she told the New York Times: “The thing is, I’m not sorry. I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything.”
In a slew of Anna articles online, one Facebook user writes, “Netflix totally romanticized Anna’s story. She didn’t want to work for what she wanted, so she scammed people, period—full stop.” Another one shares: “I read Jessica Pressler’s piece about Anna. The piece was interesting, but not interesting enough to fuel nine hours of programming. I gritted my teeth through the first hour, sure that it would get better. It didn’t. It was too much like work…There are other, much more succinct docs about Anna, which I have watched, and was fascinated by. But not this bloated Shondaland version.”
Inventing Anna was highly entertaining, though it’s definitely not at par with other Shondaland productions like Bridgerton or Grey’s Anatomy. Still, let’s face it, Anna “Delvey” Sorokin may be behind bars (well, she’s being detained in ICE custody), but she’s getting exactly what she wants. The grifter is financially benefiting from her fraudulent life; and let’s not forget, Anna Delvey is now a household name.
Stream “Inventing Anna” exclusively on Netflix.
Art Alexandra Lara