In part, by giving the reporter who broke the story nearly equal weight, “Inventing Anna” turns a riveting true story about a con artist among the influencer set into a very lifeless limited series. Rhimes has cast a number of famous faces from her ABC/”Scandal” days, but Julia Garner (“Ozark”), who has an accent reminiscent of Balki in “Perfect Strangers,” and Anna Chlumsky (“Ozark”) are the show’s breakout stars (“Veep”).
Even if Garner’s character, Anna Delvey, really did sound like this, listening to it for nine episodes is at best a distraction and at worst an ear-splitting ordeal. While there are some changes to the plot, the fundamental bones of the story are rather amazing: Delvey, a “false heiress,” duped the Manhattan elite and banks, worming her way into high society before the walls crumbled and she ended up in a courtroom.
“Inventing Anna” (David Giesbrecht/Netflix) stars Julia Garner as Anna Delvery. Delvey lived the good life, putting on a show that fooled a lot of people and made a lot of people afraid to talk about their connections with her. (Jessica Pressler’s piece in New York magazine inspired the show.)
The fact that most of the episodes are over an hour-long doesn’t help matters as a viewing proposition, since it develops a certain flabbiness in the storytelling. The same may be said about a framework that in each chapter turns the focus to a new one of Anna’s markings, jumping back and forth in time before reaching the trial and ultimately deciding her fate.
If it sounds like a lot, it is, and it’s done in a whimsical tone. The flashbacks work better than Vivian’s section of the story, which serves as a reminder that depicting journalism in drama can be a difficult task, with many misfires for every “All the President’s Men.” But it does make “Inventing Anna” a bit of a bore in the end—a series that tries a little too hard to be clever for its own benefit.