An outsider looks upon the fortress of socialites and ponders when he or she will be able to become a part of that elite circle. A person from a small town or a country isn’t jealous of the fact that he or she doesn’t have the branded clothes to flaunt, expensive wines to drink, affluent contacts to make their struggle smoother, or enough money to make everything easy on the go. Jealousy isn’t a correct expression to understand an outsider’s plight. I think it’s more of an existential crisis. Like for a shy person, his or her entire conflict is to be heard or recognized. For Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey), it was to be known. Known for creating something of her own. And Shonda Rhimes narratively explores the intricate ambitions of an outsider in her Netflix Limited Series, “Inventing Anna.”
I like the irony of the word “artist” in “con-artist,” which is often used for Anna Delvey. The reason being, an artist, never asks you for money; instead, he or she influences you to hand over your millions. The 26-year-old Anna Delvey, as portrayed in “Inventing Anna,” is a narcissistic, compulsive liar and manipulator who looks at the rotten souls of New York City’s rich elites and finds the missing pieces in their lives, which she fills with her sweet words and charm. She even lured them with the dream of adding numbers to their millions, like a fisherman catching fish with a worm. And by doing all this, Anna wanted to become a brand herself so that she wouldn’t have to live a miserable life like her family, who had to flee from Russia and live as immigrants in a small German town, Eschweiler.
Anna scammed people by using their flaws against them and exploiting the loopholes in the financial system to live a luxurious life. But whatever she did was just a grand case of larceny until Vivian Kent (inspired by Jessica Pressler) intervened and took center stage. Despite what Anna says in the opening montages of “Inventing Anna,” Vivian is the main character. She has a past, a plight, and an ambitious goal that leads to a complete change in her life.
And the third most important figure is Anna’s lawyer, Todd Spodek, who married a wealthy elite but was never able to become a part of that social circle. Like Anna, Todd felt like an outsider too, and thus the entire series is about three musketeers struggling with their own conflicts, which are brought together by the common link, Anna Delvey.
‘Inventing Anna’ Plot Summary
“Inventing Anna” begins with the arrest of a fake German heiress and alleged scammer Anna Sorokin on November 20, 2017, in Los Angeles, who is brought to New York where Manhattan ADA Catherine McCaw charges her with grand larceny and white-collar felonies. Anna’s lawyer, Todd Spodek, files for bail, but the judge rejects the plea and remands Anna to Rikers Island prison until trial.
On the other hand, it is Vivian Kent, a feature writer and a pregnant mother who works for Manhattan Magazine and is looking for one true story that can wash off the stains on her journalism career. Vivian covered a story for her friend-cum-editor, Paul, a few years ago, in which she mentioned Donovan Lamb, a kid who made $80 million in the stock market. Though all the sources verified the story, Vivian had her doubts about it, yet Paul ran the story without cross-checking it. Later, in a report, it was found out that Donovan never made that kind of money and told the reporter at The Post that Vivian forced him to lie. In “Inventing Anna,” Vivian is mocked and labeled as a bad journalist because of one single mistake, and so she decides to reclaim her integrity by covering Anna’s story.
Without the knowledge of her editors, Vivian contacts Anna and meets her at Rikers Island prison to ask for an interview, which Anna bluntly refuses.
In the meantime, Catherine McCaw gives a plea offer to Anna through Todd, according to which Anna will get a four-year sentence, and the case will be closed quickly. However, if Anna takes the plea offer, then it means that she accepts the acquisitions and labels imposed on her, and Vivian won’t get a story out of the whole ordeal. Hence, to save her career, Vivian investigates Anna’s contacts and builds a story to find Anna’s weakness, which she uses to convince her. Vivian promises Anna that she will restore her reputation and bring her hustle to the entire world, thereby making her popular. Whatever Anna did, she never did it for money; instead, she did it for recognition and respect, and what Vivian offered to Anna was everything she ever wanted. Ironically, Anna takes the bait and rejects the plea offer, seeking a trial to defend her reputation. But will the judgment turn out to be in her favor?
How Did Anna Get Arrested?
Anna was working for a dream and wanted to lay the foundation of her own social elite art club (like Soho), which she called The Anna Delvey Foundation (ADF). As a result, Anna began pulling strings to raise funds for ADF, and while she waited, she hung out with three close friends: Vanity Fair writer Rachel DeLoache Williams, fitness trainer Kacy Duke, and aspiring filmmaker Neffatari “Neff” Davis. All these three women eagerly wanted to get associated with Anna because, in her, they saw money and popularity, and Anna lured them in further by talking about ADF and her father’s trust fund, which in reality never existed.
Anna used Neff to stay in the 12 George Hotel (real name: 11 Howard) and handed generous tips to the staff so that they wouldn’t mind the accumulating bills. In return, Neff made a few calls and favored Anna’s entrance into all the elite groups, which made her struggle easier and her lifestyle more luxurious. But an embarrassing incident at a restaurant where Neff was forced to pay Anna’s bill damaged her relationship with her, after which Anna left the 12 George Hotel and planned a vacation to a Moroccan hotel, La Mamounia, in Marrakesh.
During her stay in La Mamounia with Kacy, Rachel, and Noah (a videographer), Anna believed that the Fortress would fund her loan, through which she would be able to pay for the trip. But Alan Reed informed her that Fortress would only release the fund once they had physically verified Anna’s assets in Germany. In the meantime, it was Rachel who reimbursed La Mamounia’s bill of approximately 60,000 dollars from her work card from Vanity Fair. Rachel trusted that Anna would pay her once her bank issues were resolved, but at this point, Anna knew that there was no money coming her way, and thus she deposited fraudulent checks in her account and withdrew the money to flee to Los Angeles.
Rachel tried to connect with Anna and begged her to return the money, or she would lose her job. When the tragedy happened, Rachel decided to take the matter to the DA’s office and brought in ADA Catherine McCaw, who thoroughly investigated Anna and collected evidence against her. Finally, Catherine arrested Anna in Los Angeles with Rachel’s help on November 20, 2017, while Anna was staying in a rehab center. Anna’s sob story about her traumatic childhood and abusive father was a scam she committed to stay in America because her VISA was expiring soon, and the rehab center gave her immunity against it.
What Happened To The Anna Delvey Foundation (ADF)?
Through Nora Redford’s millionaire women’s club, Anna heard about 281 Park Old Church Mission House, which was up for lease. Like an over-enthusiastic socialite, Anna decided that she would lay the foundation of ADF in 281 Park. However, she needed 40 million dollars to spin the wheel. And to get the loan from Citibank and the Fortress, Anna needed a sponsor and thus lured in Alan Reed.
Alan was influenced by Anna’s words and her passion, but he needed confirmation about Anna’s assets in Germany. To convince or trick Alan, Anna used a virtual sim and voice distorter app and spoke to Alan using an alias, Peter Hennecke. The man never existed, just like Anna’s trust fund. Hence, when the Fortress decided to verify Anna’s assets in Germany physically, Anna was certain that her grand scheme had come to an end, and soon all her lies would be exposed. The 281 Park building was leased to a Swedish photography organization, Fotografiska, and with it, Anna’s dream of building ADF died soon after. She was arrested in LA and brought to NYC for the trial, where she was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison.
‘Inventing Anna’ Ending Explained
Anna was an immigrant whose parents fled Russia and came to Eschweiler, Germany, when Anna was just 16 years old. At a tender age, Anna faced indifference towards her accent and hatred towards her nationality in the small German town where she was always treated like an outsider or a refugee. The scar was deep and the humiliation deeper, but there was one escape upon which Anna built her entire existence. Anna imagined herself in the glossy pages of a fashion magazine, dreaming of living such a flamboyant life one day. However, her father, Vadim Sorokina, ran a trucking and a cooling business, which was not enough to give Anna the lifestyle she yearned for, and hence, Anna knew that she had to escape these lands as soon as possible.
Once Anna came to New York, she trusted only one person, i.e., herself. With nothing to lose, Anna left behind Sorokin and became Delvey, a German heiress with a massive trust fund gifted by her father. Anna always knew it was a lie in the back of her mind, but she lived the lie, believing it would help her climb the ladder, and when she finally achieved something of her own, like ADF, she could use the income to pay back the loan and tell the public that she didn’t want her father’s money anymore. With this plan, Anna wanted to “invent” herself, but unfortunately lost her way and was later “discovered” by Vivian Kent.
Vivian was a flawed protagonist, a selfish journalist looking for a story to save her own career. Selfish because if Anna had accepted the plea offer, then she would have served prison time of only 4 years, but because of the trial, she was sentenced to 4 to 12 years on May 9, 2019. Anna was later released early on February 11, 2021, after serving approximately four years in prison, including two years on Rikers Island while her trial was pending. However, before the sentence was announced (and Anna’s story made Vivian, a star journalist), Vivian felt a sense of guilt for using Anna for her benefit (like everyone else did in the series), and so she decided to plunge into Anna’s background, looking for a traumatic story that might save her. But there was none. Anna designed her own doom, which Vivian, Todd, and others inevitably became a part of.
When Vivian’s boss, Landon Bloom, offered Vivian a new cabin and authority after the success of Anna’s story, Vivian zoned out and felt suffocated. She consciously believed that she used Anna to save her career and get millions of clicks worldwide, and thus a final confrontation was indeed needed before Anna was moved to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.
In the last scene of “Inventing Anna,” Anna, in her cold signature style, unburdened Vivian of all her self-doubts and guilt-trips while clearly stating that her decision to reject the plea offer was a matter of choice, which she autonomously took because Vivian promised to make her famous in exchange for an interview and a story. Anna thanked Vivian for fulfilling her part of the deal, and for Vivian, she had already achieved the goal she had set out for in the beginning of the series. ‘Inventing Anna’ ended as the main protagonist, Vivian, achieved her goals, and as for Anna, she was just an outsider who arrived in town to give people a story to talk about, just like a tramp did.
Anna was released from prison on February 11, 2021, after which she was taken into custody by ICE, and during the making of “Inventing Anna,” she was still awaiting her deportation to Germany.
“Inventing Anna” is a 2022 biopic drama series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix. The series is inspired by a New York Magazine article published by Jessica Pressler.