Inventing Anna might have been a good little limited series if it wasn’t so outrageously bloated for about 10 hours of repetition and redundancy. As a matter of fact, I’m not really sure who is the central character of this based on a true story Netflix series.
We’re led to believe it’s Anna Sorokin (Julia Garner) or as she told people Anna Delvey. But for a while, it seemed to focus too much on Vivian Kent (Anna Clumskey), a somewhat disgraced journalist for Manhattan magazine. She’s based on Jessica Pressler whose story Shonda Crimes adapted into a series. So much attention is first focused on Vivian that Anna doesn’t even seem relevant for the first two episodes of this series.
Anna is for lack of a better phrase, a con artist. She is a grifter. Someone who knows how to flash enough money or enough of the nice clothes and bling to have people think she was really a German heir. She fooled a lot of people from rich wealthy Wall Street people to those in the service industry. Anyone she could get a free meal or free trip out of was fair game to her.
But the problem with this series’ tone is that after a while Vivian tries to find some rationale and reason to her behavior. There is no reason. Anna is a narcissist. She didn’t care about anyone else. The problem with this series is there’s so much devoted to the people she did screw over that it becomes overkill. We get it. They could’ve very easily focused on one of two of her victims to generalize things.
Probably the best showcase of Anna’s ruthlessness is when she and Rachel Williams (Katie Lowes), who works for Vanity Fair and Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox), a fitness trainer, go to Marrakesh supposedly at Anna’s expense. But credit card trouble happens and Rachel is more or less forced to use her personal credit card and business American Express as Anna looks nervous at first but seems to not care when she knows someone else is footing the bill. Why should she? It’s not her money.
There is no need for a rationale to why Anna is the way she is. There are people like Anna everywhere in this world. I’ve known a few people like her. I’m not saying who they are. They believe everyone else should pay for everything. And when they don’t get their way, they play the victim. When they can’t play the victim, they turn it around. They squeeze until they can’t get one more drop and then they’re on their way to someone else. Anna does this so often, it becomes tedious. Worse is Garner’s German accent is so annoying, you wouldn’t want to hear her speak for nine minutes, nonetheless the nine episodes of this series.
The sad fact is Anna knew how to turn people against one another. Rachel, sadly, is portrayed as a whiny opportunist leeching on to wealthy people to get ahead. And I must add that the series does some fat-shaming with her character. Kacy is also obnoxious. But they are nowhere near the horrible Neff Davis (Alexis Floyd), a hotel concierge at an affluent NYC hotel. Neff comes off as your stereotypical sassy black woman. Worse, she never does see how Anna is conning everyone. And even when she Anna is arrested and charged, she still defends her.
Some might argue people around Anna should’ve known better. That if something seemed too good to be true, it probably was. The series makes references to Billy McFarland and the scam that was Fyre Fest and Martin Shkreli, the Pharma Bro as they briefly appear in scenes with Anna. Putting these two true-life people in here is unnecessary and overkill especially since two characters actually say, “He disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan” when hearing about Shkreli.
To say this series is all over the place isn’t a hyperbole. There’s a whole subplot about Vivian trying to overcome some previous story that was later proven not to be true and the tension with her supervisor. There’s so much devoted to Vivian struggling with the pains that come with being pregnant while trying to investigate the story. There’s so much time devoted to how the case affected her lawyer, Todd Spodek (Arian Moayad), and his private life. There’s even a whole episode in which Vivian goes to Germany to try to find out what Anna’s life was like growing up.
A lot of this series could have been cut in half or even by two-thirds and we would’ve still gotten the same gist of the case. I understand that Rachel has spoken out against the series and I don’t blame her. She later wrote and published a book about her experience. There was also an episode of Generation Hustle on HBO devoted to Anna.
I’m beginning to wonder what else is there left to tell. Anna is a criminal plain and simple. If anything else, all of this should be a warning to people to trust your instincts. People who flash money and prestige in the digital information era should be easily checked by a Google search.
What do you think? Please comment.