Review by Sean Boelman
Shonda Rhimes is one of the biggest television producers in the industry, so much so that pretty much anything she touches is sure to be a smash hit. Inventing Anna is sure to set the internet ablaze like every other Shondaland outing, even if people will be watching and talking about it for all the wrong reasons.
The series follows a journalist who investigates the story of a German immigrant who sets out to become a socialite in New York by charming the hearts of high society members and stealing their money. It’s based on a true story, but obviously has the Shonda Rhimes touch, playing out in a sensationalized way that feels more like How to Get Away With Murder than a drama inspired by real-life crime.
Without a doubt the worst thing about this show is its pacing. There is no reason for this series to be nine episodes long, and for almost all of those episodes to be over an hour. It’s a trashy, melodramatic mess that goes on an unnecessary amount of tangents, and yet… it’s the type of thing you can’t stop watching.
The show attempts to make the protagonist into some sort of anti-hero but absolutely fails in doing so. She’s not a likable character, and the attempts to make her endearingly flawed are futile since she’s written in such an annoying, selfish way. The best that the film is ever able to do is elicit a slight bit of pity.
The co-lead of the series doesn’t fare much better. There is a pregnancy subplot, seemingly used to make the audience feel more of a connection to the character, but it doesn’t make her feel any more human. Instead, she serves the plot of the series, only functioning to ask the questions that give the backstory and exposition.
It’s a shame that the performances here are so terrible, because the cast is actually quite talented. Julia Garner plays the lead role in a way that is so annoying that any charm the character may have had is lost on the audience. And the accent she does is atrocious, even sometimes laughable.
There is at least something resembling style here, but it is so wildly inconsistent that it is frustrating. There are some glimpses of interesting things happening, but it’s only a few scenes an episode. The finale is actually the most intriguing part of the series from an artistic standpoint, but the ambitious moments stick out like a sore thumb.
Inventing Anna is truly atrocious in pretty much every way, but it’s the type of bad show that you can’t help but hate watch. It’s like a massive pile-up that keeps racking up more and more carnage, it’s impossible not to stare at it in awe and bewilderment.
Inventing Anna hits Netflix on February 11. All nine episodes reviewed.