In Review

Inventing Anna: Netflix’s frothy scammer drama is ‘all a bit silly’

Show tells story of Anna Delvey, the woman who infiltrated New York society

Few stories feel as “perfectly poised for the screen” as that of Anna Delvey – the Russian truck driver’s daughter who infiltrated New York society by posing as a German heiress, and defrauded banks and individuals out of hundreds of thousands of dollars along the way. A magazine article about her went viral in 2018; now Netflix has turned the affair into a “nine-episode romp”, said Annabel Nugent in The Independent.

Julia Garner‘s Delvey is a smirky “mean girl” with a weird pan-European accent. Hot on her tail is semi-fictionalised journalist Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky), who is trying to unravel her story. It is a fascinating tale, but the series feels like a wasted opportunity: we never really get a sense of who Delvey was, or what motivated her.

The problem isn’t Garner’s portrayal of the young grifter, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph – though it is “no more than adequate”. It is the way the drama takes the spotlight off her, “and makes a reporter the star of the show”.

Kent comes across as a wildly unrealistic “Lois Lane/ Nancy Drew figure determined to crack the case”. She’s in the last stages of pregnancy with her first child, but cares so much more about the case, she papers the walls of the nursery with mugshots of Delvey (inside info: real-life journalists don’t actually do this).

It’s all a bit silly, said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. Producer Shonda Rhimes has opted to turn this true-life story into “a modern soap opera” that invites viewers into the glossy world of the super-rich; but it is great fun.

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