Genius TV host Shonda Rhimes takes us into the world of the infamous fake German heiress, socialite Anna Delvey, real name Anna Sorokin, who scammed New York’s wealthiest out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, in Invent Anna on Netflix (released February 11), starring Julia Garner.
“Anna Delvey is a masterpiece of female dogs,” says Garner as Sorokin.
Frankly, it’s incredibly accurate. Not only was Sorokin, as Delvey, able to defraud people, businesses, and banks, claiming she had a family fortune and trust of over $60 million, once arrested she became a phenomenon. People were constantly waiting to see what outfit she would wear to her trial in 2019, after she hired a stylist to choose designer outfits, while incarcerated at Rikers Island prison. There were even t-shirts with the text “Fake German Heiress”, which were incredibly in demand.
So what is it about Sorokin that made her so convincing, so likeable, so seemingly trustworthy yet brilliantly evil, that became even more popular and famous in prison? This is what Rhimes explores in Invent Anna.
Famous Friends, Lavish Lifestyle Documented
Fans of Anna Sorokin’s story will probably know who Rachel DeLoache Williams is, a former vanity lounge employee who was a personal friend of Sorokin. That is, until they take a trip to Morocco, which is recreated in Invent Anna. Through a series of scenarios where Sorokin dodged bills and credit card payments, Williams ended up being cheated out of US$62,000.
Williams shared her story in a first person play vanity lounge in 2018 then wrote the popular book “My Friend Anna: The True Story of a False Heiress” both of which recount her friendship with Sorokin and how she was coerced into his scam.
Corn Invent Anna does not concern DeLoache Williams’ point of view. In fact, the series positions her as quite shy, simply around Sorokin to enjoy perks, free trips, spa visits, clothes, and dinners galore. The general feeling is that even though she lost money and it was completely traumatic to figure out how to get out of that debt, she also received a lot of gifts.
The focus of the show is from the perspective of Anna Chlumsky’s character, Vivian Kent, inspired by journalist Jessica Pressler, who wrote an article in 2018 for New York magazine title “Maybe she had so much money she lost track of it.” If Pressler’s name sounds familiar, she also wrote the 2015 article “The Hustlers at Scores,” which became the genesis for Jennifer Lopez’s film. Hustlers.
Pressler’s story about Sorokin describes how the fake heiress spent money she didn’t have, on dinners, tips, travel, and designer clothes and accessories. She even called “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli a close friend, who played her the Tha Carter V Lil’ Wayne album he acquired, and hung out with Macaulay Culkin. Notably now, after the Fyre Festival disaster and the resulting documentaries, Sorokin actually crashed with fellow con man Billy McFarland in his SoHo loft headquarters for months.
Ultimately, Sorokin sought to establish the Anna Delvey Foundation (ADF), an arts space and social club. She was really meeting people so she could make her ADF dream a reality, but when it came to securing funding, she posed as the financial advisor to her family fortune in an effort to secure $22 million. from banks in the form of a loan.
Julia Garner and Anna Chlumsky wear the show
The Shonda Rhimes Format Invent Anna has the characteristics of some teen dramas of the 2000s/2010s, like Gossip Girlwhich is fitting considering the life Anna Sorokin was living and paying for.
All of the characters, and there are plenty of them, support this almost unbelievable story, but it’s Julia Garner and Anna Chlumsky who really steal the show.
You can’t argue Invent Ann not to mention the accent Garner developed for the role, his mix of Russian, German, and American accents, all wrapped up in this very weird mix that you really can’t get out of your head. But that’s why it works so well, it’s almost uncomfortably intoxicating, just like Sorokin’s call.
Chlumsky plays a reporter who, after a story gone wrong, tries to redeem herself by opening up about Sorokin’s life, while pregnant and nearing her due date.
Something particularly refreshing with Chlumsky’s portrayal of Vivian Kent is that she shows what many women go through in real life, having a child but also having career aspirations, and why those career goals should be set aside. .
In one scene, the journalist begins to cry at her doctor’s appointment when she discovers that she is expecting a girl.
“I’m out of time,” she says, referring to having to finish this Sorokin story before her daughter is born.
When her husband, played by Anders Holm, tries to console her, she says, “If you tell me that my joy of having a daughter is supposed to make up for the loss of a career, the loss of the thing that lights up my brain, I swear before God that I will smother you in your sleep.
As blunt as it sounds, women who want to prioritize their career goals, which when men do is considered completely “normal,” is certainly a worthy addition to the story.
Men too focused on Anna Delvey being a young woman to notice her scam
Misogyny, more broadly, is also central to Anna Sorokin’s story. Networked with some of New York’s most prominent finance men, Invent Anna shows people ignoring her based on her age (she was only 20 when she was trying to get her foundation off the ground), pushed aside because she’s a woman, and gets unwanted advances from men powerful who cared more about his ass than his business.
What’s unique about Sorokin’s story is that there were legitimate reasons for them to reject her proposals, she never had any money and her entire identity was fabricated, but they were too busy taking care of his young wife to notice him.
Some people say they want to be powerful but anonymous, while others want to be famous and how much authority they have is not particularly relevant. Sorokin was clearly looking for both.
Sorokin calls himself an “icon” and a “legend” in Invent Annawhich seemed to be his real goal.
“New York is swimming in the capital, but talent is hard to find…genius is rare,” Sorokin said in Invent Anna.
In 2019, Sorokin was convicted of one count of attempted robbery, three counts of robbery and four counts of theft services. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison but was released in February 2021 and taken into ICE custody for overstaying her visa.
Sorokin wrote a play for Initiated earlier this month, sharing her thoughts on her case, the Netflix show and remaining in ICE custody while waiting to see if she will be deported to Germany.