Entertainment

‘Inventing Anna’ treats criminal Anna Delvey like a feminist icon


Anna Delvey is New York’s fake heiress, an infamous con artist, a friend to both Fyre Festival scammer Billy McFarland and pharma jerk Martin Shkreli.

And now, she’s also a feminist icon. Huh?

That’s the tall tale Shonda Rhimes tells in her trashy new Netflix series “Inventing Anna.” The show focuses on the infamous Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey), who was sent to the clink in 2019 for remorselessly defrauding friends, banks and hotels out of a total of $275,000 by pretending to be a wealthy German woman.

Shonda seems to think that deep down the deranged Sorokin wasn’t a fabulist who lied with abandon and cruelly used everyone she met at all. No! She was a modern-day Gloria Steinem who was held back by our inhospitable world of horrible men. A kind of secret shopper whose fibs shined a light on the real injustices — capitalism and the patriarchy. Deutschland’s own Joan of Arc. 

You can’t help but marvel at the audacity of this wacko take on a convicted criminal.

If you thought Izzie hopping in the sack with the ghost of her dead fiancé on Season 5 of “Grey’s Anatomy” went beyond the reaches of the human imagination, just you wait.

In the show, as Anna (played by Julia Garner) takes meetings with bankers to attempt to secure a $40 million loan to fund a Soho House-like venture, the mean men in business suits won’t take her seriously because, Shonda insists, she is a young blond woman. Oh, the injustice! 

Could it be that their skepticism comes from a well-honed instinct that her collateral — a fake $60 million dollar trust fund kept in a European bank account — is bogus? Nope. It’s sexism! Thank you, Anna, for flagging this disparity.

Anna (Julia Garner) uses lies to charm men into funding her pricey members club.
Anna (Julia Garner) uses lies to charm men into funding her pricey members’ club.
NICOLE RIVELLI/NETFLIX

When she stays at 12 George, a boutique hotel not so cleverly modeled after 11 Howard, and takes meetings with yet more dudes in suits, one aggressively tries to come up to her room and have sex with her. 

Not cool. But the scene, which is brought up several more times to illustrate this flagrant liar’s hardships, misdirects from the fact that she stayed at the pricey joint for an entire month and continuously put off paying the bill. When she did finally pony up the $30,000 she spent there, she did it with stolen money. Susan B. Anthony’s got her work cut out for her!

Shonda’s most insane move, however, is treating poor Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams like she’s the Wicked Witch of the West. 

In 2017, Sorokin, our very own Mother Teresa, took Williams (played by Katie Lowes) and another woman on a trip to a fabulous Kardashian-endorsed hotel in Morocco, saying she’d pay for it. Then — shocker — all of her credit cards were declined. The group was at risk of being booted and arrested in Marrakech for non-payment, so a nervous Williams offered up her corporate card for the $62,000 hold while Sorokin awaited a wire transfer that would never come. 

Anna and the friends, who think they know her, party and go on pricey vacations.
Anna and her friends, who think they know her, party and go on pricey vacations.
AARON EPSTEIN/NETFLIX

Williams’ understandable, months-long begging to be paid back by her supposedly rich friend who asked her to come on the vacation and booked the luxury hotel (wealthy people pick up the check in New York all the time) is mocked by Rhimes’ show like a bully. 

In one scene, cops laugh off the modestly paid editor, who’s made to look like a whiny hanger-on, chiding that they wish they had expense accounts. And her friends argue that she betrayed the wonderful Anna by going to the police.

When Williams takes the stand to testify against Sorokin, Sorokin’s likable lawyer — speechifying like Mr. Smith Goes To The Bulls–t Factory — says it’s actually Williams who’s evil for making a buck off her traumatic experience. (She got paid to write an article for Vanity Fair and a book called “My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress.” She deserves every penny.)

Anna Sorokin (a k a Anna Delvey) in court in 2019.
Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey) in court in 2019.
Steven Hirsch

Sorokin, we are told, is just a hard-working woman scraping by in a world dominated by men and moochers who don’t understand her brilliance.  

The thing is, Shonda, we do understand her. Anna Delvey is an ex-convict who cheated countless people out of a lot of money by lying. It doesn’t matter that she is charismatic and funny or that the cons were gullible. She’s a narcissistic criminal, who dragged her pals through the mud. This week she posted an Instagram story offering to give the highest bidding media outlet the true identity of her ex-boyfriend. She hurt women by being an unrepentant fraud. 

What’s next, Shonda? A mini-series about Ghislaine Maxwell’s secret love of painting?



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