Netflix shines a light on deceit in short series Inventing Anna


The New Netflix show Inventing Anna shares the story of the famous con artist, Anna Sorokin and the product of this series reveals that modern society is the true criminal.

Ella Lukowiak

A $100 bill slid over the counter. An accent no one can place. A charming smile and confident attitude. Anna Delvey charmed her way through New York’s elite and nearly convinced the world that she was exactly who she said she was: a wealthy German heiress.

The only problem was that she never had any money.

Netflix’s Inventing Anna tells the story of Anna Sorokin, most famously known as Anna Delvey, and how the now 31-year-old went from an upper-class socialite and businesswoman to being charged with one count of attempted grand larceny, three counts of grand larceny and four counts of theft services.

The short series, starring Julia Garner as Delvey, consists of nine episodes that each follow the story of Delvey, her victims and fictional journalist Vivian Kent, based on real life journalist Jessica Pressler, as she uncovers the truth behind the con.

While the series is based on the New York Magazine article, “Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It,” by Pressler, each episode begins with the phrase “This whole story is completely true. Except for all the parts that are totally made up.”

So, how much of the series actually captures the reality of Delvey’s story?

While the show does incorporate accurate details, Delvey is framed in an increasingly positive light as the episodes progress, despite her crimes. When she is on trial, journalists go as far as to root for her freedom and innocence from the charges.

Delvey was sentenced to 4-12 years in prison for her crimes, and was released from Rikers Island jail complex on good behavior in Feb. 2021 after being held for almost 3 years. Subsequently, she was brought to ICE custody for overstayed her visa and is currently in the process of being deported to Germany.

One person who was never rooting for Delvey however, and in fact testified against her, was victim of Delvey and Vanity Fair writer Rachel DeLoache Williams. While on a trip to Marrakech, Morocco with Delvey, Williams was conned out of about $62,000 and only received a $5,000 wire transfer from Delvey to compensate.

After watching Inventing Anna, Williams has spoken up about the danger of portraying Delvey’s character with such empathy throughout the series.

Delvey was paid $320,000 by Netflix for her life rights and was forced to use the money to pay off her debts to those she conned, some believe she isn’t profiting from her crimes. Williams was enraged that because of this, some believe she isn’t profiting from her crimes.

“To say she doesn’t profit because there isn’t much money left over after she pays lawyers,” Williams said. “It’s like, at what point does $75,000 worth of attorney fees factor into not being her profit?”

As the series comes to an end, Vivian Kent and other characters begin to sympathize with Delvey, claiming her actions to be a product of our culture. Williams is concerned with how the show incorporates this element of emotional fiction and overlaps it with the truth of Anna’s crimes.

“This show is playing with a fine line — peddling it as a true story, but also [in the opening disclaimer] saying, ‘except for all the parts that aren’t.’ I think it’s worth exploring at what point a half-truth is more dangerous than a lie,” Williams said. “That disclaimer gives the show enough credibility so that people can believe [the fictional elements] more easily….You may have shaped [a show] in a way that’s convenient for your story, but it’s a disservice to the people whose stories you’re telling.”

Regardless of the show bringing newfound infamy to her story, Delvey will always be affected by the widespread circulation of her name, especially as Inventing Anna rises in popularity.

“I personally moved on a very long time ago,” Delvey said. “I’m absolutely not in the same place, but I’m also being affected by the way the world is seeing me, and what people think of me.”