Netflix’s latest limited series Inventing Anna is a dramatization of Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article “How an Aspiring ‘It’ Girl Tricked New York’s Party People — and Its Banks.” Creator and showrunner Shonda Rhimes, known for her string of hit television shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder), acquired the rights to the story before Anna was even sentenced. Having read about the true events and being a fan of Ms. Rhimes, I had high expectations for this series. Unfortunately, it fell short in several areas.
Inventing Anna follows journalist Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) as she sets out to cover the exploits of the mysterious Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), the faux German heiress who swindled New York’s elite out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Still recovering from a nearly career-ending story gone wrong, Vivian is relentless in her investigation into Delvey’s crimes, desperately needing a hit story to prove her talent and credibility. She has a fascination with Anna to the point of admiration, and as the story unfolds, we understand why.
Anna is a stylish, power-hungry twenty-something making herself known among the New York social scene, as well as the business and art worlds. While she schmoozes with CEOs and financiers, Anna keeps a tight-knit group of friends — concierge/aspiring filmmaker Neff (Alexis Floyd), Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams (Katie Lowes), and celebrity personal trainer Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox).
Since I was familiar with the true story, it was hard to accept the way the character of Rachel Williams plays out on screen. She’s been one of the most visible figures of the case, and the selfie-obsessed, social climber character created for the series is just so over the top that it’s distracting. Williams is definitely not portrayed in a good light, even during the episode revolving around her experiences. (It’s probably good that she has her own film being produced by HBO.) Lowes is great in the role, and when I make myself see this “Rachel” purely as a…