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The Ending Of Inventing Anna Explained

Contains spoilers for "Inventing Anna"

Netflix's "Inventing Anna" is the latest series created by Shonda Rhimes ("Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal"). The 10-episode drama tells the true story ("except for the parts that aren't") of Anna Sorokin, aka "Anna Delvey," who passed herself off as a German heiress while scamming New York City's social elite and several high-profile financial institutions out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Based on a 2018 article written by Jessica Pressler for New York Magazine, the series follows disgraced journalist Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) as she tries to figure out how a 25-year-old woman managed to pull the wool over so many people's eyes. Episode 1 opens with Anna (Julia Garner) describing herself as an "icon" and a "legend," although most viewers have probably never heard of her until now. Unlike better-known con artists such as financier Bernie Madoff, Anna didn't rob people of their life savings. In many ways, it's difficult to muster up much if any sympathy for Anna's marks: luxury hotels, social climbers, big banks, and other factions of New York upper echelon and those who thrive catering to them.

As Anna awaits trial, Vivian chronicles the rise and fall of the enigmatic woman through the eyes of those who believed they knew her best. Although the end of "Inventing Anna" brings its titular character's story to a close, the audience may feel conflicted about Anna, her exploits, and her ultimate reckoning.

Separating fact from fiction in Netflix's Inventing Anna

Throughout "Inventing Anna," Vivian believes Anna must have evolved into who she is in the present, but Anna assures her that's not the case. Anna has always been this person. It seems simplistic to call Anna a sociopath just because she's unapologetic. Anna is calculating, not impulsive; she craves companionship and acceptance, and if she believes what she's saying to be true, does that still make her a liar?

In the finale, Anna still maintains that she was building a legitimate business, and her remorse has nothing to do with who she conned but rather her failure to achieve her goal. After being found guilty, the real Anna Sorokin told The New York Times, "The thing is, I'm not sorry. I'd be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything. I regret the way I went about certain things."

Garner infuses enough fragility into Anna that, at times, it manages to overshadow her otherwise steely demeanor, callousness, and epic meltdowns, making her far more likable and relatable than her victims. Rachel DeLoache Williams (Katie Lowes) revels in being portrayed as a victim, only to turn around and capitalize on her trauma, which perfectly illustrates her parasitic relationship with Anna. Anna would rather go to jail as an accomplished woman than remain free as an inept one. She is as repulsed by her generation's sense of entitlement as she is by cheap shoes and pregnancy.

Charisma and classism in the Shonda Rhimes true crime drama

By all accounts in "Inventing Anna," the infamous titular character is nothing spectacular to look at, and her personality can be off-putting. However, there's something charismatic about her that caused "everybody who got involved with [her to get] swept up in her wake and in her life," Shonda Rhimes told W Magazine. Neither Vivian nor Todd Spodek (Arian Moayed) abandons her despite knowing the truth. To Vivian, Anna starts out as a compelling story, and as someone whose career was derailed by a con artist, it's understandable why Vivian is so determined to want to get inside the head of one.

The show does explore classism, a theme that's clear throughout and punctuated at the end. Vivian appears repulsed at the vulgarity of wealth on display in Anna's world on multiple occasions. Todd, a lackluster lawyer who married into high society, tells his wife that, as an outsider in her world, he feels people look at him like he's the valet and that Anna is someone who needs him — and not to park her car. Both Vivian and Todd are awed by Anna's fearlessness, with Todd giving Anna credit in the finale for having the guts to do what it takes to get ahead in a world where the same rules don't apply to the rich. 

They are connected by their shared insecurities about being have-nots masquerading as haves. Because the story is told without the benefit of Anna's perspective, Vivian's and Todd's perceptions of Anna give her much-needed depth.

Is Anna Delvey a villain or a victim?

In the "Inventing Anna" finale, Todd betrays Anna. Although he probably shaves a few years off her sentence, Todd, in Anna's mind, diminishes her accomplishments. Vivian feels compelled to stick by Anna because she believes she "created this monster," shining a spotlight on Anna's misdeeds with her article. Anna wants fame, and ultimately, she gives up a plea deal. Vivian apologizes, but is conveniently let off the hook by Anna, who assures her they aren't friends. It could be a magnanimous gesture to alleviate Vivian's guilt or the truth. When Anna asks Vivian to visit her in prison, she is motivated by either genuine affection or the fear of becoming irrelevant.

Anna is ultimately reduced to generic labels like "thief," "con artist," "wannabe," and "dumb socialite," and viewers will walk away feeling the mysteries surrounding the Russian-born grifter go mostly unsolved. "There was no one version of Anna. To me, the best way to find that was to watch the reporter talk to all of these different people and hear their version of what Anna was to them," Shonda Rhimes told W Magazine.

Todd gets notoriety and clients, Vivian regains credibility, Neff (Alexis Floyd) gets inspiration, Rachel writes a best-selling novel, the rich stay rich, and it feels like Anna's biggest crime is that she fooled people who should have known better or dare we say it, even had it coming. Should we feel sorry for her or for those she duped?