When Anna Delvey made headlines back in 2018, all of America knew her name overnight. But with the new Netflix series Inventing Anna, she has become a global sensation. Socialite or scammer, she has forever solidified her reputation as the girl who wrapped New York around her fingers.
The series loosely follows the events of the real story, and leading lady Vivian Kent is inspired by Jessica Pressler, the journalist who wrote the exposé that sparked it all. Titled “Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It”, the piece was published in New York Magazine four years ago. There are details that mirror Pressler’s own life - like the fact she was also very much pregnant or when she was caught in controversy after falsely reporting on a kid who supposedly made a fortune from stocks.
In my opinion, one of the biggest draws to this series is how it plays out like a drama show. Every episode starts off with the disclaimer: “This whole story is completely true. Except for all of the parts that are totally made up.” Inventing Anna is produced by Shondaland, the same Shonda Rhimes that created Grey’s Anatomy. The show constantly dips back and forth between Vivian writing her article and Anna flitting through the elite. Especially for those who were unaware of Anna Delvey prior to the series, this is a fresh new plot that keeps unfolding to reveal a rollercoaster. Characters like the acerbic Neff Davis and the lovable Scriberia squad keep the humour alight as well as serve as a break from the intense story that unfolds.
On the other hand, I feel like Inventing Anna plays a little fast and loose with Anna’s story. She is made out to be a feminist revenge agenda wrapped in stolen designer, and yet she was simply a failed fraud. Even her claim that she didn’t feel guilty - just girlbossing a little too close to the sun as some might say - falls slightly flat after her interview with the New York Times. “I feel sorry for the choices I’ve made. Definitely, I don’t feel like the world would be a better place if people were just trying to be more like me.” With social media now crazy over Anna, you do wonder which Anna they know and mean.
And the half-truths that captivated audiences? To get a better idea of what actually happened, you’d be better off reading Pressler’s article, or even Rachel DeLoache Williams’ book My Friend Anna. Despite Neff and Kacy Duke’s beliefs that they were accurately portrayed, Williams was nowhere near the vapid ingenue she was made out to be. She also made hundreds of thousands off the events between selling her story to Vanity Fair, her Simon & Schuster book deal and optioning it for a potential HBO deal.
The ethics behind the production itself is also dubious - Anna was reportedly paid over $300,000 as a consultant. There are also talks of a series on events after Inventing Anna, and she is running Instagram bids for the reveal of the ‘futurist boyfriend’s’ name. (Which she started at 10k) However sorry she is, she is still looking for ways to fill her wallet with green.
Inventing Anna is unpredictable, captivating and slightly exhausting - much like the Soho grifter herself. One could argue that it would be better focused if it were a shorter series instead of nine hour-long episodes. But Netflix’s want for drama means that much of the nuances of Delvey’s deception are lost in the whirlwind of scams and surface intrigue.