Inventing Anna is a fun, suspenseful, and highly addictive ride.
This review of the Netflix limited series Inventing Anna season 1 contains minor spoilers. The series will be released on the streaming service on February 11th, 2022
Shonda Rhimes delivers a series that is vibrant, often funny, consistently entertaining, and brimming with the type of stylized, soapy suspense she is known for. Her latest Netflix venture, Inventing Anna, explores the underbelly of the New York City socialite and banking elite. With each passing episode, you will be amazed at how an early twenty-something German Heiress was so much more than the Instagram social media star. She conned big banks, philanthropists, top financial advisors, exclusive hedge funds, prestigious law firms, and the most famous real-estate moguls the area had to offer. It all came crashing down for her, almost like the series itself.
That con-woman goes by Anna Delvey (Ozark’s Julia Garner). She is a young immigrant woman with a muddled German accent with a hint of Russian in her voice. Anna tells everyone she has a trust fund of almost sixty million dollars ready to come pouring in. Anna, admittedly, tells all who will listen that she is brilliant, can speak seven languages, and has a photographic memory. Her most significant issue is that she runs around town dressing like Barbie. Why? Because she doesn’t want ever to be considered basic.
Anna is arrested for fraud charges, and Vivian (Anna Chlumsky), a reporter for Manhattan Magazine, hears about it. She wants to ditch her boring #MeToo Wall Street story to focus on a woman who managed to trick the city’s most elite. And take their money while doing it. The story plays out like an addictive novel, with each chapter getting more intriguing and more mysterious. Why did Anna do it? How did Anna get big business and white, wealthy, conservative money men behind her? Vivian takes a page out of Serena Williams’s playbook. She has to solve the mystery by getting an exclusive interview with her and writing the thing before her first child in a matter of weeks.
Shonda Rhimes’s addictive series has two great things going for it. For one, Julia Garner is so good in the role of Anna Delvey. Her take is wholly original. She manages to be hilariously funny while being incredibly unlikable. You cannot get enough of it that it’s practically insatiable, even if it’s a character that is deplorable. That is a demanding role to play, and she manages it beautifully. Even more so when, in the final episode, she works to display a passionate vulnerability as she finally lets her guard down. She begs her lawyer, Todd (Succession’s Arian Moayed), how people need to know how close she came to greatness.
And it’s time to talk about Anna Chlumsky. She has never been better. Never. It’s a thankless role that is designed to offer structure. Chlumsky manages to move the plot from scene to scene with surprising ease. At the same time, she plays the reporter as slightly neurotic and uptight. All while not being afraid to look like a fool with a pitch-perfect sense of self-deprecating humor.
Inventing Anna is not without its faults. While everyone displays Anna as some criminal mastermind, the series shows her as, frankly, lucky and incompetent. Rhimes wants to cover up some plot holes, like Anna’s non-existent expertise in manipulating human behavior with stylized storytelling and fashion. For example, most of Anna’s significant crimes are getting lucky by chance. (How many hotels can have malfunctioning credit card machines and run up tabs over thirty-grand until someone says something?).
My biggest issue with the series is in the final two episodes. The writers attempt to blame the conservative money men, big banking, and a woman who Anna ran over sixty-two grand in debt on her credit cards. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around. And the apt point of how men fail into promotions is astute. The problem is, here, as we said, Anna is deplorable. The series establishes zero reasons why the audience should forgive or cheer for her. While the series also does a fine job of displaying how some of the damages didn’t exist (as some of the victims gained money, employment, and big companies forgave the debt), they make the fatal mistake of turning on an individual who was an actual victim.
Though, that may be beside the point. This is a true story, and if the series wants to take the stand that somehow Anna was taken advantage of, godspeed. However, it does affect the total enjoyment of the series. For the most part, Inventing Anna is fun, suspenseful, and a highly addictive ride.
What did you think of Netflix’s Inventing Anna season 1? Comment below.