Ozark's Julia Garner plays Anna Sorokin, the German con artist who pretended to be a wealthy heiress called Anna Delvey in order to swindle friends, private jet companies and high-end New York hotels out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. She was eventually convicted of grand larceny and served nearly four years in prison.
Inventing Anna, which was created and produced by Shonda Rhimes (Bridgerton, Grey's Anatomy), begins with the tongue-in-cheek disclaimer: "This whole story is completely true. Except for the parts that are completely made up."
However, it's this deliberate blending of fact and fiction that has been called into question by Rachel Williams, the former Vanity Fair photo editor who was conned out of $62,000 (£45,000) by Sorokin.
"I think promoting this whole narrative and celebrating a sociopathic, narcissistic, proven criminal is wrong," Williams told Vanity Fair. "Having had a front-row seat to [the Anna circus] for far too long, I've studied the way a con works more than anybody needs to. You watch the spectacle, but you're not paying attention to what’s being marketed."
Williams, who is portrayed in the series by actress Katie Lowes, also expressed concern that "some people online think [Inventing Anna] is a fact-checked series" as opposed to "true crime entertainment".
"This show is playing with a fine line—peddling it as a true story, but also saying, 'except for all the parts that aren't,'' Williams added. "I think it's worth exploring at what point a half-truth is more dangerous than a lie. That disclaimer gives the show enough credibility so that people can believe [the fictional elements] more easily. I think that's really dangerous territory. Plus, it affected real-time criminal-justice proceedings."
It was reported in 2021 that Netflix paid Sorokin $320,000 for the rights to her life story. She is said to have used some of this sum to pay off some of her victims.