Julia Garner as Anna Delvery in Inventing Anna
Julia Garner as Anna Delvery in Inventing Anna (Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

Bridgerton, Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and TV’s longest-running prime-time medical drama Grey’s Anatomy all have one thing in common, and that is the inimitable Shonda Rhimes. The groundbreaking storyteller, prolific producer and founder of her production company and lifestyle brand Shondaland, has taken on a new project that’s bound to be her next sure-fire hit.

Rhimes’ new true crime series, Inventing Anna, premieres with nine episodes on Friday, February 11 on Netflix. The show follows the true (but almost unbelievable) story, inspired by journalist Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article, “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People.” Rhimes told Netflix about the first time she read the piece. “I was running on a treadmill when I read the article in New York Magazine about Anna Delvey, and I remember literally jumping off of the treadmill and calling my office,” she recalled. “I really felt like I hadn’t felt that excitement of a story that I wanted to tell and knew exactly how I wanted to tell it in a really long time.”

With Pressler onboard for the project, the reporter provided a wealth of information on her first-hand breaking story.

Charting the journey of a journalist (Anna Chlumsky) as she investigates the fraudulent case of Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), the story of the fake German heiress unravels as her con to swindle New York’s social elite out of their money becomes common knowledge.

Finding empathy for Sorokin despite her villainous actions, Rhimes told Netflix, “There is something about this idea of somebody that age, a young woman building her way through the brawl that we can all relate to. She is a villain’s villain, if you know what I mean. You can’t help but admire her, she’s fascinating.”

Between 2013 and 2017, Anna Sorokin went by the name of Anna Delvey, scamming her wealthy friends, hotels, banks out of thousands of dollars. “I was fascinated by the fact that people were so eager to believe what she had to say without questioning it and how you make your way in the world,” said Rhimes. “If you think about the fact that most of us reinvent ourselves when we go to college or you reinvent yourself when you go to high school or out in the business world, that’s what Anna was doing, only she just did it better than almost anybody else I’ve ever seen.”

Noting our collective reliance on social media, and the impulse to judge a book by its Instagram profile, Rhimes finds that the state of our culture helped to facilitate such a superficial yet illustrious scam. “We have created a world in which scrolling through Instagram images is the way you’re supposed to take other people in and understand who’s good and who’s bad and who’s powerful and who’s great. And yet, when somebody managed to do it in real life, people got really mad.”