Inventing the Real Anna

by jdowney

Arts & Entertainment

Inventing the Real Anna

The Hit Netflix Show and the Fascinating Story Behind It

Riley Coyne ’24

Anna Delvey—or, rather, Anna Sorokin—conned Wall Street businessmen, New York socialites, and billionaires, stealing their hearts as well as their money. She tricked the wealthiest of the wealthy into thinking that she was one of them, when in reality, she is a cunning scam artist who aimed to financially manipulate those around her. Sorokin claimed she would repay these wealthy men and women with money from a well-padded trust fund her father had created for her. She was able to play this part of a trust fund baby, using her unassuming character to her advantage—until it landed her in jail. 

A new Netflix original series, Inventing Anna, tells this fascinating story, with Julia Garner portraying the titular con artist. Notably, though, viewers must take this small-screen adaptation with a grain of salt: as the opening sequence of each episode clarifies, “this whole story is completely true. Except for all of the parts that are totally made up.”

If the intrigue of a true crime story wasn’t enough to capture audiences’ attention, the fact that the series is produced by screenwriter Shonda Rhimes surely captivated them. Rhimes is best known for her beloved medical drama Grey’s Anatomy

By and large, Inventing Anna is receiving positive reviews. However, some people have taken issue with Garner and her portrayal of Sorokin. Garner is a highly-regarded actress, with roles in successful projects such as Ozark, The Americans, The Assistant, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Despite her impressive credentials, certain viewers have taken to social media to express that they think her voice is “annoying” and “too high-pitched.” 

However, the real-life Sorokin is Russian and pretended to be German, so even though Garner’s accent may seem odd, it is in fact a blend of those two common accents. In a statement defending Garner from such criticism, Rhimes told T&C that “Julia [Garner] spent a lot of time perfecting Anna’s accent and ultimately, I think it was one of the biggest pieces in helping embody this character.”

With all of this recent buzz surrounding Inventing Anna and Sorokin, the popular Spotify podcast Call her Daddy decided to interview the real Sorokin. The conversation took place shortly after Sorokin’s release from prison via a video call from the ICE detention center that she is currently being held in. 

Alex Cooper, the host of Call Her Daddy, emphasized in a statement that it was difficult to conduct the interview given that Sorokin is in government custody and, as such, is only allowed a certain amount of time to talk on the phone. Cooper explained that “she had to log off and back on every fifteen minutes,” making the interview process long and tedious, but also expressed that she was determined to interview Sorokin. 

At one point in the interview, Cooper asks Sorokin if she considers herself to be a con artist. Sorokin’s response, in short, was “Absolutely not.” Sorokin also said that she is aware of the new Netflix series about her and her escapades but does not plan on watching it anytime soon.

TV Review: The Girl From Plainville

by jdowney

Arts & Entertainment

TV Review: The Girl From Plainville

A Small Screen Adaptation of a Case That Gripped the Nation

Grace O’Connor ’22

Trigger Warning: This article contains mention of suicide.

 The Girl from Plainville, starring Elle Fanning, adapts a case that gripped the nation to the small screen. The true, tragic story behind the show began on July 13, 2014, when teenager Conrad Roy passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning in his truck. His death was originally ruled a suicide, but then investigators discovered that there was more to the story. Roy’s girlfriend, Michelle Carter, was texting him on the day of his death, and she played a significant role in his decision to take his own life.

Carter met Roy in 2012 on a family vacation in Florida. The pair began a texting-based relationship that lasted for almost two years. As Bazaar explains, they “bonded over their mental health struggles. Carter was isolated at school, and suffered from anxiety and an eating disorder that—during the time period of her relationship with Roy—necessitated a stay at a residential clinic. Roy himself had already made several suicide attempts.” Carter became a constant in Roy’s life, helping him through his struggles and finding herself increasingly attached to him as she shared the details of her own struggles with him. 

In a statement made soon after Roy’s tragic death, Carter claimed that “Conrad did not kill himself because of bullying like everyone assumes. I know the real reasons.” The real reasons, it would later come out, had much to do with Carter, herself. 

With the reveal of Carter’s involvement in Roy’s passing came new questions about the case. According to The Guardian, people began to wonder, “is Michelle a psychopath looking for sympathy? A delusional narcissist? An unwell teenage girl so devoid of self-worth that she psychotically over-identifies with a fictional character? Someone deeply moved by television?” The Guardian’s mention of television and fictional characters references Carter’s obsession with Glee, particularly with Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Finn Hudson’s (Cory Monteith) relationship. Carter seemed to view her relationship with Roy in terms of the fictional romance, which sees Monteith’s character die.

The first three episodes of The Girl from Plainville focus on the aftermath of Roy’s death and Carter’s seemingly deep remorse. Viewers quickly learn the importance of texting in the pair’s relationship through flashbacks of messages that they sent to one another. In this way, the show does a great job of depicting the reality of the couple’s situation. As The Guardian emphasizes, “The couple, who only met in person a handful of times, were less lovers than voices in each other’s heads. The show captures some of that blurriness, and why adults just didn’t get it, by putting the texts in the actors’ mouths. Their digital conversations (pulled, it seems, from the real texts) play out as fantasy sequences, one imagining the other in the room with them, staring ravenously at them, as they type.”  

The Girl from Plainville does not shy away from the ugliness of its story. Later episodes show Carter pushing Roy to end his life—still through text messages—feeding on his vulnerability. Additionally, in episode six, viewers learn how Carter’s loneliness and lack of true friends exacerbated her eating disorder and other personal struggles. Although the show is careful to not turn Carter into a sympathetic figure, it makes it possible for viewers to empathize with her, even if only for a few moments.

Overall, despite its heavy plot, Girl from Plainville brings awareness to mental health and the importance of helping others who may be struggling. The talented cast did an excellent job of vividly portraying this tragic story.

Euphoria Season 2 Recap

by jdowney

Arts & Entertainment

Euphoria Season 2 Recap

Zendaya and Company Shock Viewers Once Again

Caitlin Ariel ’24

After the finale of Euphoria’s jaw-dropping first season in 2019, fans had to wait an agonizing two and a half years for its sophomore season, which aired on Jan. 9. Indeed, with the pandemic delaying the filming of season two, it seemed like forever since fans had seen a new episode of the smash-hit series. 

During this wait, however, watchers’ patience was rewarded with two special episodes: one dedicated to Rue (Zendaya), and another to Jules (Hunter Schafer), with both installments following each character as they cope with their dramatic breakup with one another. 

These specials only heightened fans’ anticipation for the show’s second season: its premiere raked in 19 million viewers, officially making Euphoria the second-most popular HBO show behind Game of Thrones. Even as credits rolled during the finale, fans were still begging for more. 

Director Sam Levinson seems to broaden the scope of the show’s storyline in this season much to the benefit of two characters who suffered from a want of development in season one: Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fezco (Angus Cloud). Lexi, who was relegated to a supporting role in season one, recognizes her passivity in Euphoria’s story and begins to control her own narrative in the most obvious way possible: writing and performing a play about her life for the entire school. Fezco’s story similarly comes to prominence early on in the new season, with its first episode offering viewers a flashback to his childhood. 

Sydney Sweeney’s character, Cassie, continuously sneaks off with her best friend Maddie’s (Alexa Demie) abusive ex-boyfriend Nate (Jacob Elordi). As Nate and his father Cal (Eric Dane) further entrench themselves in their messy and problematic dynamic established in season one, viewers see a new, troubling side to Cassie. Last season, the character came across as an overthinking, quiet girl, but under Nate’s dangerous influence, she spirals into an explosive and commanding figure. 

Of course, Zendaya dominates this season, proving that she truly deserved her 2020 Emmy win. Rue’s season two storyline picks up right where viewers left her at the end of season one, not shying away from the uncomfortable, tragic realities of her drug relapse that emerged during the season’s finale. 

Unlike last season, however, Rue is accompanied by newcomer Elliot. Elliot is played by Dominic Fike, who is well known for his song “3 Nights,” which currently has 680 million streams on Spotify. Elliot almost seems to be taking Jules’ place this season, as he and Rue grow close, but he, like Jules in season one, is unsure of how to handle Rue’s destructive actions. Rue’s behavior causes Elliot and viewers alike to feel a strange mix of sympathy and anger as they watch her turn on those she loves. Zendaya’s pre-season warnings about season two being “difficult,” specifically for her character, certainly ring true.

Overall, the flashiness of Euphoria’s first season is substituted with rawness in its sophomore run, a dramatic shift reflected in how Levinson switched from digital to film when filming the second season. The bold purples and blues that fans have come to associate with Euphoria are exchanged for darker and neutral colors, making the show feel more emotional and grounded. Levinson and the actors dig deep to find new dimensions to the characters viewers thought they knew, and as the season progresses, those at home cannot help but become connected to their drama. It is this powerful connection that kept viewers coming back every Sunday night as the season aired and will keep them anxiously awaiting the series’ third season, which is slated for a 2024 release.

Season two of Euphoria is now streaming on HBO Max.