Next Story

The art of (self?) invention

Shonda Rhimes’ new series presents the audience with Anna, who schemes her way up the ladder

By Khizer Asif |
facebook whatsup linkded
PUBLISHED March 06, 2022

There is that unique humour of being embarrassed after a pompous exclamation in the Netflix show Inventing Anna. The idea of words before action plays throughout this show, and the characters live through their inability to back up their claims. For the tunnel-visioned Vivian Kent, it was from her oversight to fact-check the teenager, who Vivian presumed, had earned millions from the stock market. However, it comes out most spectacularly (although the worst for Vivian) that the claim was false, and the teenager then claimed Vivian had coaxed him to embellish that truth. Turned pariah, Vivian had found her place in the Manhattan magazine, where she resides in the depreciated portion of the office: Scriberia. Anna Sorokin, a.k.a. Anna Delvey, had her fun with lying all the way to prison, yet both she and Vivian share the same oversight of pushing for the truth—sometimes based on nothing but words.

On this side of the grass

The grass always seems greener on the other side, and it's for this reason hustling seems to be the only option for those who aren't born into the right social circle. Hustle-culture's predominating ideal of actualising dreams and goals is through pure effort no matter how self-destructing nor how it encourages the tunnel-visioned attitudes, which normally is what causes failure. Although most viewers can't help root for the enigmatic Anna, for most people, she plays that hope of making it, that effort alone will achieve all. Yet no matter the small achievements nor the way she outwits, the social elite can avoid the inevitable demise of this antihero. Anna is also appreciative of the hustle-culture in New York City, such as her loyal friend Neff Davis. Out of all her relationships in the show, Neff was treated far better, possibly due to Neff not being part of the social elite, nor did she have money. Anna understood this and decided on paying for everything for Neff, from extravagant food to pricy outings; Anna spoiled Neff. Vivian even believed that Anna truly believed Neff as a friend and not another pawn for her to exploit. This is supported by the fact that amongst everyone she had taken money from, Neff was the only one to be repaid in full. It is a bizarre but pleasant side of Anna, which humanises her exploitative personality.

She also finds a redeemable quality in her ex-boyfriend, Chase Sikorski, who is just another tech entrepreneur who uses similar tactics as Anna pertaining to gaining traction for their business endeavours. In the scene where Chases convinces Anna to lie about being in Ibiza so that Chase could get onto the yacht that another successful tech entrepreneur owned. Talia Mallay, a former acquaintance of Anna, recounts this scene where she reveals that after everyone had left the yacht, Anna and Chase stayed, unbeknownst to Talia, for a week-long after the owner of the boat had left and ordered the workers around as if she owned the ship. To Talia, Chase was probably the reason why Anna had stayed on the boat for that long, hinting that Chase is more like Anna than most would believe. This rings true when, like Anna, Chase had oversold his app idea where it shows that his company had been failing and it didn't even have a working prototype; it was all words. This didn't end with just lying about his company, but he had lied about his upbringing, claiming he was a child of immigrants, but in actuality, his mother moved to the US at the age of two from Canada, and he is adopted. In Chase's mind, his actual backstory wouldn't get enough pity from potential investors hoping to use their money for charity. Chase shows a side of wanting to push the truth just as Anna has done, but in his case, he got away with losing investors' money and got a job in Dubai while Anna received jail time.

The difference of expectations and treatment of both Neff and Chase shows a calculated side in Anna when deciding the people she associates. She admits this as a good quality of herself, saying to Vivian, ”It’s like, I don’t need to like you as a person but if I see you would be good in a role and do good work and fit well with the team, it doesn’t really matter how you are as a person.” To Anna, it didn't matter how crass or irritable they were as long as the person was useful. This shows the reason she chooses to associate herself with people like Martin Shkreli, whom Neff aptly describes as, “-that pharma bro who raised all the prices of those AIDs drugs and ended up in prison? He was there.” Another questionable acquaintance of Anna's is Billy McFarland, who infamously created Frye Festival, even living in the same apartment (rent-free). One thing that the show depicts Anna is her ability to know who all talk and who can back it up.

An illusory prey


Throughout the show, Anna seems to attract many influential people, and with each, she finds a way to use them to her benefit. With Nora, Anna used her name as a foothold into enticing investors, and she also used Nora's credit card for expensive clothes. She had committed larceny when staying at high-class hotels across New York City and didn't pay the pricy bills she incurred. Yet the one grift that Anna was most proud of was how close she was to acquire a 25 million dollar investment from a reputable hedge fund. The fact of how Anna convinced Alan Reed to vouch for her venture to start an exclusive art club. Through Nora, Anna got a reputable name, but Anna had the money now through Alan. The show tries to interpret best why Alan trusted Anna, suggesting that due to his diminished relationship with his daughter Alan saw a side of Anna that he wished his daughter would share. Anna talks about the extent that Alan went for her, saying, “He was there all the time. He would answer in the middle of the night or when he was in Turks and Caicos for Christmas.” With him being there for her at her beck and call, the show's best reason for this is if Alan saw Anna as a daughter rather than an actual business partner.

The show brings up the issue of the double standards in the business world with the way women are treated more like a commodity rather than being taken seriously. In one of their meetings, Anna tells Vivian about her mistreatment, saying, “Everyday men do far worse things than anything I’ve allegedly done. And what happens to them? Nothing." This statement is true for Chase, where he defrauded his investors, yet he is not jail time like Anna. Alan is another person who took advantage of the system and used the opportunity he had with Anna allowing her to defraud his company. Later on, Vivian talks to her husband about her meeting with Alan in the show. With the absurdity of how he was promoted to the global head of the company's real estate division earning 2 million dollars a year, finishing her point with the scene cutting to the television showing Trump, “There are zero consequences for these men.”


The show’s disclaimer depicts its comedic theme with it saying, “This whole story is completely true. Except for all the parts that are totally made up.” Some critics of the show aren’t too happy with the way it treats the idea of the girlboss. Where they are winning and controlling the scene; however, if these critics would see the show as a parody of that archetype, they may then find the wittiness and entertaining aspects of this show. This show is as serious as the audience should believe in Anna's lies. The gimmicky side of her controlling the elite, who are perceived to be above the lower class, reveals the utter absurdity of wanting to live the high life, that most of these rich people are devoid of a sense of reality. Yet Anna isn't immune to this, as her egotistical nature shows her ignorance of how she is perceived. Anna fights with everyone on how she is an heiress; even after being ousted by her parents, who revealed her humble beginning, she still refuses to admit her lie. This show tries to capture the essence of the hustler, of people working their way up into the elite. Yet the hustler that the audience is given is Anna, and she delivers a role that tries to serve the lower classes but ultimately fails provided how her motivations are purely selfish. This is why the idea of inventing Anna is a way to show the tendencies of society to create such heroes even from those who exhibit opposing traits. In a voice-over by Vivian of her reading out her article, she says, “Anna looked at the soil of New York and recognised that if you distract people with shiny objects, if you show them money, they’ll be virtually unable to see anything else. And the thing was, it was so easy.” Easy and profitable. Anna chooses a life in which it benefits from the misfortune of others, and this show gives the reasons of how Anna fooled so many people, trying its best through the convoluted lies and misinformation from Anna.