“Inventing Anna:” From con to icon


Photo via Netflix

Netflix’s new hit, “Inventing Anna,” was released Feb. 11 and is based on the real life figure, Anna Sorokin, a.k.a. Anna Delvey, who scammed expensive hotels and banks out of $275,000. This story caught my eye two years ago, and I was fascinated by it. Anna, a middle-class Russian woman, was able to convince some of New York’s wealthiest people that she was a rich German heiress, and surprisingly, that was all it took to string them along. 

The series starts with Anna (Julia Garner) in prison reading a New York Post article calling her a “dumb socialite” and “hotel scammer.” In her scamming days, Anna checked into some of the best five-star hotels, put her non-functioning credit card on file and then made herself at home for months at a time. When the hotels finally realize the credit card doesn’t work, Anna promises that a wire transfer from Germany is coming. It never does. Then, Anna moves on to the next hotel and repeats. However, her hotel bills were just the first loose threads in a long list of grand larceny. Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky), a journalist at Manhattan Magazine, who is based on the real-life journalist Jessica Pressler and her article, realizes there is more to the story and follows Anna into her world of rose-tinted glasses and invisible money. 

I’ll be honest: the show was agonizingly long. Each episode was an hour long, drawing out scenes that could have ended in minutes. It was even more disappointing when I found out that the first three hours of the show included nonexistent characters, and they were the central part of Kent’s interviews in the first few episodes. This show didn’t need that. 

Anna’s story sounds unreal as it is. Yet, that was what made it intriguing since everything was true. Adding fake elements for aesthetic purposes takes away from the paradox of the story. However, the show was still addicting. Maybe I’m biased, but I liked how the show emphasized Pressler’s journalism. The main protagonist isn’t even Anna. The audience actually follows Kent as she unravels all of Anna’s lies.

Anna didn’t come to NYC with the sole purpose of hotel backpacking. In fact, her eyes were set on a building at 281 Park Ave., the perfect place to open an exclusive Soho House-ish type club. The only problem was that the property started at $60 million. 

Somehow, she was able to reel in some of America’s finest bank institutions and almost secure a loan worth millions (with fake financial documents, of course). A girl from the middle of nowhere almost took on the sharks of Wall Street, which was why I watched the show in the first place. Unlike other scammers who hid behind screens, Anna went up to her victims in-person with just a cold smile and wads of cash (secured by bad checks), and people believed she was worth the money. 

Despite the length, I was still captivated by this show. The visuals, costumes and makeup provided an insider view of the glittery world of New York elites. I’ve actually watched some of Anna’s real-life interviews, and Garner was almost an exact replica of Anna, even down to the accent. The show did an amazing job tracing the path a rookie took to break down the barriers of a frigid, capitalistic world. I highly recommend watching the show; it will just take some time.