When Anna Sorokin (better known by her alias, Anna Delvey) was arrested and put on trial in 2017 for defrauding friends, hotels, banks and various businesses out of over a quarter of a million dollars, the media storm that ensued quickly captivated the country. In the process, Sorokin climbed her way up the New York City, upper-elite society circle.
Now, a Netflix adaptation Inventing Anna currently holds the third spot in the streaming service’s ratings. is turning viewers’ attention back to the case. The limited series, produced by Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes, has nine episodes. Julia Garner stars as Delvey/Sorokin, alongside Anna Chlumsky as Manhattan Magazine reporter Vivian Kent (a fictionalized version of Jessica Pressler, who wrote the original New York Magazine article) and Arian Moayed as defense lawyer Todd Spodek.
Episode one opens with Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Rich” playing, as New York Post’s front page discusses Sorokin’s indictment and are being printed en masse. The plot then mainly follows Kent’s efforts to get her story pitch on Anna approved by her editors, eventually going behind their backs to get the “scoop of a lifetime,” and Spodek’s efforts to build a solid defense for his client.
Garner’s portrayal of Sorokin is impressive. A simple yet notable detail is the Russian and German accent she mastered, fairly accurate to Sorokin’s (a result of her birth in the former country and residence in the latter). Her somewhat delusional state of mind, snobbish persona that allowed her to fit in with the upper class and manipulative nature is also well presented.
Another aspect of the series that is especially interesting is the sympathy it creates for a convicted, white-collar felon. When the viewers meet Sorokin/Delvey, she is extremely unsure of herself and appears extremely distressed by her circumstances as well as fully convinced of her own innocence, stating that “There are girls in here who are criminals. Like they’re dangerous people. Vivian, I didn’t do anything wrong…this whole thing is some kind of misunderstanding.” The series is heavily dramatized which accounts for these elements.
What’s more realistic is the recognition of Sorokin’s intelligence. Towards the beginning of the case, the media portrays her as “some dumb socialite.” Kent finds this unfair, as it takes a significant amount of skill to commit the crimes that she did. They required a solid knowledge of the intricate workings of both society and business, both of which are incredibly complicated fields to navigate in any scenario. She had to have been very skilled to accomplish what she did (legal or not) and while this representation is fictionalized, the recognition is still important.
As the episode moves along, viewers are introduced to reasons to doubt the charges made-such as a visit by Kent to 12 George Hotel where a concierge named Neff (later revealed to be a friend of Delvey) reveals that she paid for her entire months-long stay and tipped with $100 bills (after Kent handed her cash when she expressed concern about losing her job for granting access to the hotel). Viewers feel doubt and confusion as Kent speaks to associates that all describe her in different ways-from the clothes she wears, the source of her fortune and her personality.
After a tumultuous period where it’s unsure whether Kent will get the story she needs, the episode ends on a suspenseful note: the interview is on. Now, viewers just have to wait for the story to be told in the rest of the series. If the first episode is any indication, it promises to be entertaining, scandalizing and suspenseful as Kent’s drive grows and we learn how Anna Delvey was truly invented.