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Scammer shows are becoming less and less effective: From Inventing Anna to Bad Vegan to The Dropout

  • Vox

    "It’s weird how few of these series — from Tiger King to LuLaRich to The Vow — manage to make you really understand the appeal of their central grifter, guru, or con artist," says Alissa Wilkinson. "The trend started with docuseries, but many of the same tales have graduated to docudramas, where the central problem gets even more confusing. Inventing Anna, the Netflix series in which Julia Garner, using an accurate but bizarre rendering of scammer Anna Delvey’s accent, so fascinates a whole bunch of reasonable people that they get sucked into her orbit, is perhaps the most egregious in this respect. The series takes for granted that we find Anna entrancing, while portraying her as abrasive and annoying without anything particularly interesting to say. By the end of the series, we’re listening to her lawyer and the journalist investigating the case talk as if she’s Jedi mind-tricked them into slavishly following her every whim. Having watched the whole show, it’s impossible to buy into it. The only explanation available is that they’re just stupid, and yet, you know it can’t be that; after all, Delvey is also the subject of an episode of HBO’s series Generation Hustle, as well as an upcoming docuseries. It seems more that the show doesn’t know why it exists. Maybe the whole genre doesn’t. Why tell (and retell and retell), on glitzy streaming services and with movie stars and fancy sets, tales of people who defrauded their investors and hurt their friends? What’s the point? In the case of Inventing Anna, the answer is some ethically muddled, bizarrely patronizing mumbo-jumbo about how women are punished for doing things that men get away with. Okay? Is that all?"

    TOPICS: Inventing Anna, Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives., The Dropout