A year after her release from prison, Netflix released the docudrama series of the rise and fall of Anna Delvey/Sorokin who created the fake persona of a German heiress and found her way into New York’s elite society and highest profile financial sector.
Created by Shonda Rimes and Shondaland who created popular series such as Grey’s Anatomy and Bridgerton; Inventing Anna portrays the true story and some dramatic interpretation.
While it’s easy to look at the true story itself as the fascinating subject matter it is, critically I will be reviewing the series for its own merits. The Conservative Critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And is it liberal propaganda?
Conservative Critic Meter Check
Overall rating: The story carries the water
The story itself is irresistible. The source material is an article How Anna (Sorokin) Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People written by journalist Jessica Pressler who also wrote the 2015 piece The Hustlers at Scores which was made into the smash success film starring Jennier Lopez, Hustlers. The truth and the source material article brings audiences a story about a woman who lied her way into millions of dollars from the most powerful and exclusive people on planet earth. As it explores the not-so-sympathetic characters of America’s richest and most privileged individuals and most powerful bankers, it often raises the question of “whose side are you on?” between the supposed victims and the conwoman Anna Delvey/Sorokin.
Inventing Anna does a good job capitalizing on the material and presenting it to audiences with the same questions. Can you really root for these elites who refuse to do any business with people who might come from a different world than theirs? But on the other hand, are Anna’s lies and motives so narcissistic that she is the true villain? Is there anyone to root for? The entertainment value of these complexities and the web Anna weaves is enough to make the series very watchable.
However, as is so often the case in the Shondaland suite, the dramatized elements of the story are often too convenient and over dramatic. The series presents itself like a Wal-Mart Aaron Sorkin feature. It wants to be a newsroom/courtroom drama but instead falls pretty deeply short.
Finally, the show shoe-horns a bunch of anti-Trump references which make absolutely 0 sense into the series for seemingly no reason and protect a bunch of rich bankers which is all extremely liberal and took away from the integrity of the series.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Sucks you in
It’s hard to resist taking in Inventing Anna in one sitting. The series is extremely binge worthy, telling Anna’s story of deception from multiple points of view through the lens of an investigative reporter seeking interviews for her story. Viewers follow Anna’s lifestyle wondering what she’ll pull off next and when she’ll finally get caught. We sweat it out with those being scammed as they realize the massive bills are not going to get paid. The series takes viewers beyond the publication of the article through the trial and never fully reveals who Anna really is. Audiences are mesmerized by the lies and their own internal conflict on whether they’re with Anna or against her or somewhere in between. 10 hours is easy to blow by with this series. Between the clothes and the trips and the narrow escapes, Anna’s borderline personality disorder will fixate audiences well past their bedtimes.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Inventing Anna has its strengths and weaknesses. The strengths come from the screenplay and source material and the phenomenal performances by Julia Garner (Ozark, The Assistant) as Anna Delvey/Sorokin and Alexis Floyd (The Bold Type) as Neff (a hotel concierge and staunch defender of Anna Sorokin). Garner develops one of the most chaotic and annoying personas ever witnessed on screen and gives audiences an Anna who is almost impossible to like or root for which is absolutely the intention. It gives the audience an additional question of: why, if this woman was so tedious and shrill, would anyone voluntarily be in her company in the first place?
Floyd plays Neff who is loyal to Anna to the very end and to this day in real life despite all her lies and wrong doing. Floyd is extremely committed and at times viewers will want to shake her to wake up and realize she’s been had. Floyd absolutely commits and really brings strength to the series by giving a totally unique and truly loyal perspective of Anna’s friendships.
The failures come from the dramatization choices. The story of Anna Delvey is well into public record. So for the most part a lot of the names and likenesses could have been pulled from public record with no permissions from the real people involved as long as they would be considered legally public figures. Anna certainly would be as would almost every character in her story since the court records are so extensive and the media coverage was so prolific. And yet the series makes the choice to reveal the identities of only the more working class players in Anna’s story while protecting all of the upper echelon “victims” including the bankers. This decision weakens the credibility of the series and makes those elements of the story less juicy.
Further, I do not understand the series decision to fictionalize Jessica Pressler with a fake character Vivian Kent and to change the magazine from New York Magazine to Manhattan magazine. The series clearly presents itself as based on Pressler’s work so why not just portray Pressler? Especially since all the core details of Vivian Kent’s story (her pregnancy, her previous work scandal) were accurate? Again this choice makes the series seem almost spoofy.
Finally, Anna Chlumsky gives audiences a very unlikable Vivian Kent. Intended as the protagonist of the story, Chlumsky is neurotic and unrelatable. Her frenetic energy makes it difficult to root for Kent and as a veteran performer, it was not her best.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Liberal for no reason
The series cannot stop talking about Donald Trump. They bring him up in some nasty snide way in every single episode without fail often more than once. Why? I have no idea considering he had absolutely 0 connection to Anna Delvey/Sorokin or her story. In fact, the series never attempts to make the connection; they just throw out his name and slander it every few scenes. It’s truly bizarre. These liberals just cannot get over how much they miss Donald Trump.