Who is Anna Delvey really? The question (perhaps without the incredulous really at the end, although it’s implied) is asked in this first hour of the new Netflix limited series, Inventing Anna. Is she rich socialite or broke con artist? Well, perhaps that question is just too complicated. We’ll start with something simpler. Is she German? Russian? Both? Neither?
But perhaps that, too, is a more loaded question than it appears. We’ll try simpler still. Which version of Anna Delvey, as she was described by the people who ostensibly knew her best, is true? Are any of them? After this first hour of Inventing Anna, “The Life of a VIP,” she could almost be the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, for all I know. And I’d almost believe it, too. Except, of course, I wouldn’t. Because how can you believe anything about Anna Delvey (a.k.a. Anna Sorokin, but I’m picking one name and sticking with it for sanity’s sake).
More Questions Than Answers
Anyone who’s worked in the criminal justice system or is a fan of true crime can tell you that real life isn’t like an episode of Law and Order (not that I’m knocking the series). On TV, all the relevant questions are usually answered at the end of the hour: Who, what, where, when, why, and how. In the real world, even when mysteries are solved, questions often still remain. Yes, the prosecution proved the defendant robbed the bank beyond a reasonable doubt. But did they have a person on the inside, helping them out? Where’s the rest of the money? Who drove the getaway car?
Inventing Anna takes that mystery one step further. When a real-world crime is solved, we may not have all the answers, but we can at least be reasonably assured that we have one: Who. Who did it? Who was the culprit? We have a name, and from that name, we can dig into the past to try to understand the what, why, and even how. What makes this person tick? Why did they commit the crime they did? How did they come to be the kind of person who would even do so?
With Anna Delvey, all of that goes out the window. Who is she really? Does even she know at this point? Is she the Russian or the German? The girl who has more clothes than one can imagine, or the one who only wears the same simple black dress? Where did she get her money? Did she ever even have money? This first hour of the multi-part series asks all these questions and more.
And, of course, while Anna’s secrets may be the most tantalizing, she’s not the only one to have them. Vivian, the journalist on her tail, has secrets of her own, at least from the viewer during this first hour. What was the story that ruined her career? Why is she so desperate for redemption? These questions, at least, stand to be answered to a reasonable degree of satisfaction before the final credits roll on the series. (Right?)
Love Her Or Hate Her
As intriguing a question as who Anna Delvey is, at the end of the day, that really isn’t as important as what she did. And, yeah, this limited series is a semi-fictional recounting of her story. It is television, after all. But for the purposes of these reviews, I’m taking it all as truth because I’m in no position to parse fact from fiction in terms of her story. I’m just here for a good story.
By the end of the first hour, Delvey has been arraigned on multiple charges for financial crimes. There’s no question that the series will delve into each one of these allegations. However, there is a question – even posed within the show – as to whether or not people will quite frankly care. Her victims are apparently primarily banks, hotels, and the members of New York high society. People don’t particularly like banks, and they don’t particularly care about hotels. As for the New York elite…well, maybe (one might enviously argue) they had it coming. So even if she did what they allege she did, does it matter? Do we care?
Maybe. Maybe not. But over the course of the first hour, it’s clear that the perception of Delvey isn’t black-and-white, even to those who knew her. To some, her name clearly comes with a sense of shame. It isn’t to be spoken, unless it’s in hushed whispers behind closed doors. The better to hide their embarrassment (presumably at having been drawn in). But she isn’t without her defenders. Those who view her as a modern-day Robin Hood. Her stalwart friends, who are willing to stand by her even after the “truth” – such as it is – is known.
But, of course, nobody is ever just one thing. Certainly not someone like Delvey, who is determined to be all the things, it seems. So after an hour of tackling the question “Who is Anna Delvey?” what do we really know about her?
She’s clever. And arrogant. She would have to be, to get away with all that she’s accused of doing. And she wants to be famous. In that, at least, she got her wish.
What did you think of the first episode? Let us know in the comments below!