Netflix’s Inventing Anna Changes the Real Story

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Inventing Anna, streaming on Netflix now.

Netflix’s latest drama series Inventing Anna is based on the real story of convicted with artist Anna Sorokin — better known by her alias Anna Delvey. The Russian-born woman pretended to be a German heiress, elusively entering the circles of New York’s elite and defrauding numerous financial institutions, hotels and even her own acquaintances until her arrest in 2017. In fictionalizing the tale rather than making a documentary, the series has also taken a fair amount of dramatic license.

Anna (played by Julia Garner, concurrently seen on Netflix in Ozarks Season 4) is introduced as a young, wealthy European who decides to move to New York to make it as a successful businesswoman. Ella’s ambition is to create the Anna Delvey Foundation: a private club for the rich that would also act as a hub for art and offer various luxurious experiences. However, after coming very close to securing a loan that would grant her millions of dollars to make her ambitious idea a reality, the truth about her fake background is revealed and her debts eventually catch up to her. It turns out that Anna lied about many things — even her name.

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The show is based on a nyc magazine article written by journalist Jessica Pressler — and it’s with the character based on Pressler that the series decides to make most of its alterations. Anna Chlumsky (who recurred in NBC’s cult hit Hannibal) portrays journalist Vivian Kent, a fictionalized version of Pressler who works at the also-fictional magazine Manhattan. Vivian made a mistake in a previous story that damaged her reputation, and pursues Anna’s story of her as a chance to redeem herself. Pressler suffered a similar mishap in real life but she quickly recovered, according to an interview with vulture. Pressler wrote another article that would inspire the film hustlerstarring Keke Palmer (seen in the trailer for Jordan Peele’s nope).

Vivian initially finds it hard to get her pitch approved by her editors in Inventing Anna; they want her to write a story about the #MeToo movement in Wall Street instead. Pressler mentions in the vulture interview that while she was assigned that second story, she did not get as much pushback from her superiors. The Netflix series seems to have chosen to portray Vivian’s editors more harshly to add more dramatic effect to Vivian’s efforts of her.

Another big change is with Vivian’s pregnancy; Pressler was pregnant, but the timeline of the pregnancy is shifted forward for the show. Vivian gives birth right after she finishes the story, while according to InStyle, Pressler had finished her article weeks before her baby arrived. As the journalist told InStyle“The character is very loosely based on me, just to be clear… I think that there are a whole bunch of people’s experiences embedded in that character.”

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Inventing Anna also makes some changes to Anna’s side of the story. Ella’s Her Boyfriend Ella Chase Sikorski (played by Saamer Usmani from HBO’s Succession, which took a rapid downturn in Season 3). is a fictional character created for the show inspired by Anna’s unnamed boyfriend from Pressler’s article. But much of Anna and Chase’s time together — overstaying in a stranger’s yacht for weeks and living with Manhattan socialite Nora Radford and fashion designer Val — are details that created for the Netflix series. Ella’s strained relationship with her parents is apparently true, but Insider points out they also wrote a letter asking for her leniency after her conviction.

Inventing Anna has been criticized for presenting Anna Sorokin in a more sympathetic light; some of the liberties that the show took to flesh out its story might have created a false perception about who she really is. From a purely entertainment point of view, however, Netflix’s latest series makes for some buzzworthy drama.

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