The incredible Shonda Rhimes (creator of hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Bridgerton) has taken on a new show after her blockbuster deal with Netflix. So let’s get busy with all the tea about the series everybody’s talking about, because you might be wondering, is this famous quote fact?
“This whole story is completely true, except for all the parts that are totally made up”
Inventing Anna is about a journalist trying to untangle a spider web of lies by socialite Anna Delvey aka Anna Sorokin, a fictional German heiress. The series is based on an article made by Jessica Pressler in 2018 for the New York Magazine about the real-life Anna Sorokin that not only exploded on social media but also exposed the many wealthy people who were scammed by her.
Fun fact: Jessica also wrote an article in 2015 for The New York Magazine which got her a nomination for the National Magazine Award and was the basis for the movie Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez.
Before the show presented us with the character of Vivian and Manhattan Magazine, Shonda Rhimes contacted Jessica about obtaining the rights to her articles. Jessica had been out on maternity leave and responded a month later expressing interest and apologizing for the late response.
Shonda replied: “Don’t EVER apologize for the work of being a woman and a mother. If you were a man, people would be putting you on the cover of Time magazine for taking care of kids and doing ANY work at all at the same time.”
After that email, Jessica was in.
Even if Anna Chlumsy, the actress who played Vivian said that she wasn’t playing the real “Jessica”, the similarities with her life are uncanny. Not just because like Jessica, the fictional Vivian was also pregnant while writing the article, the piece she wrote in the show, “Reasons to Love New York”, happened to be a real article written by Jessica.
Inventing Anna is so much more than just a drama about a girl in her 20’s scamming people, it shows a society feeding into social media and what “being rich” actually means.
It all starts with Vivian Kent, a New York journalist who gets interested in Anna’s arrest and visits her in jail. As the series develops, you realize she finds herself fascinated by the scammer’s personality and life. From there, Vivian gets to understand everybody’s perspectives (some real and some invented), and you get to watch all of it while every episode is unfolding.
Many details are exaggerated for entertainment purposes and to make it more appealing to the public such as her German/Russian accent or her now straight hair. But through the made-up facts and true events, one of the most shocking moments is when we see Anna scamming former friend Rachel (based on real-life Sorokin’s friend, Rachel Deloache Williams) get swindled out of $62.000 on a holiday trip to Moroccos. In the series, Rachel suffers while trying to find a way to pay her credit card debts, but in real life, Anna even stayed on her couch despite still owing her that much money. As the series shows, Rachel did write an article for Vanity Fair, where she talked about her experiences with Anna and how she set her up in order for the police to arrest her; that article later on became a book called “My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress”.
Fun fact about Rachel: she eventually sold her story to HBO for $35.000, way before the Netflix adaptation came out, which she has referred to as upsetting and fictional.
Now let’s talk about the lawyers. The last episodes are centered on Anna’s trial that actually lasted just over a month. This part of the series is more true to life with the details as Delvey’s lawyer really did really talk about Sinatra in his opening speech and treated Rachel so badly that she ended up crying on the stand. The show also implies that her lawyer, Todd Spodek, took the case for free to increase his profile and was helped by Vivian though he maintains that there was no interest by the media initially and that it only came later.
Finally, let’s get into the fashion. Anna famously mentioned to her lawyer “Don’t crowd my entrance” and
hired her friend and stylist from Rikers Island, Anastasia Walker, so that people would focus on her outfits rather than what she did in her trial.
Allegedly Jessica was the one who went to H&M and bought clothes for her first appearances in court and happened to lend her some of her own clothes as well. There was also an actual unverified Instagram account that showed every outfit Anna wore.
What about Germany? Jessica, the journalist, recalls going to the country and actually trying to find answers to some of the questions but says she never tried to break into anyone’s house, nonetheless Anna’s parents’ house. What’s sure now is that Anna doesn’t have to worry about money anymore. Netflix paid her $350.000 dollars for the rights to her story.