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A posh poseur

Inventing Anna playfully dramatizes the life of a fake heiress who scammed Manhattan elite


Netflix

A posh poseur
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Decked out in designer clothes, 20-something Anna Delvey is a German socialite with a $60-million trust fund. Wining and dining among the wealthy, she’s also trying to establish the Anna Delvey Foundation, a social club for the super rich.

That’s what Anna, whose real last name is Sorokin, would have everyone believe.

The Netflix series Inventing Anna is based on Sorokin, whose story grabbed headlines in 2018: She swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from financial institutions and friends. Born in Russia and raised in Germany, Sorokin doesn’t come from money. That trust fund doesn’t exist. Her clothes? In the dramatization, they’re charged to an unsuspecting friend’s credit card.

Anna is in jail awaiting trial at the start of the show. Journalist Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) visits her on Rikers Island in New York City, trying to talk the con artist into divulging her story. Anna ends that meeting by asking, “Are you pregnant, or are you just so very, very fat?” Playing Anna, Julia Garner sounds odd, but that’s because she adopted an accent that mixes Russian, German, and American English to mimic Sorokin.

Petulant, Anna’s also a skilled schemer. Vivian finds out she stole a jet to fly to Warren Buffet’s investment conference. (Sorokin really did that.) Morality aside, this is an entertaining show depicting Anna’s wild shenanigans. The playfulness continues for most of the episodes until they turn somber when Vivian digs into Anna’s childhood. This show is also rated TV-MA for its strong language and a veiled depiction of sex.

Inventing Anna is as much about Vivian as it is the grifter with delusions of being a businesswoman. Vivian’s character is based on Jessica Pressler, who reported on Sorokin while pregnant. She is a high-strung journalist facing motherhood. During an ultrasound appointment where she learns she’s having a daughter, she bursts into a string of F-bombs: She feels torn between her career ambitions and the imminent demands of being a mom.

Anna’s story is intriguing, but Vivian’s also pursuing it to redeem herself: The disgraced reporter is still reeling from a disastrous article. Pressler dealt with a similar setback.

The finagling Anna fakes it and makes it into prison, showing crime doesn’t pay. Convicted of grand larceny and theft, she faces a maximum sentence of 12 years.

In reality, Sorokin, found guilty in 2019, was released in 2021. Shortly after, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained her for overstaying her visa. And crime kind of pays: Netflix offered Sorokin $320,000 for this show, which she spent on restitution.

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