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Julia Garner's Anna Delvey Accent Is Insane, But It's Not the First of Its Kind

Eight other wackadoo TV accents that had us scratching our heads.
  • Photos: Netflix, NBC, Hulu
    Photos: Netflix, NBC, Hulu

    Nothing in Inventing Anna, the new Netflix series based on the story of real-life high society grifter Anna Delvey, is supposed to feel all that real. Anna herself was a self-styled fiction, after all. As we see her maneuver her way into the lives of rich and influential people, her intentions aren't entirely clear: is she simply looking to scam free hotel lodging and fancy parties or is she trying to shortcut her way into making a name for herself and her ever-dubious "foundation"? The fact that the answers end up feeling as ephemeral as the questions is the point. Add to that the Shonda Rhimes of it all, whose Scandal — the most consistently surreal and unwell of her hit shows — feels like a shadow template for Inventing Anna, and you end up with a show that doesn't quite feel like it takes place on planet Earth.

    And then there is … that accent. Like everything else about Inventing Anna, the accent that two-time Emmy winner Julia Garner sports as the title character isn't supposed to be a triumph of verisimilitude. It's supposed to be a big, glaring tip-off to the fact that this woman who claimed to be a German heiress was actually from Russia and didn't sound quite right as either. Even within that context, Garner's Anna Delvey accent is a lot, with at least seven or eight distinct accents fighting to emerge as dominant. Is that … Australian? Irish? Throw those in a blender along with German, Russian, the Bronx, posh English, working-class English … maybe something Scandinavian? It is a rollercoaster ride and a bottomless abyss all at once.

    In honor of Inventing Anna and the fun that is Garner's insane Delvey accent, we've gathered a handful of some of the most bizarre, puzzling, and ill-considered TV accents in recent memory. They paved the way for Julia Garner as Anna Delvey, and are forever burned in our memory.

    Julianne Moore in 30 Rock

    Julianne Moore playing Nancy Donovan on 30 Rock may be the all-time champion of ludicrous TV accents. Nancy was a brief love interest for Jack Donaghy, who was drawn to her working-class Boston roots. Those roots were planted in the shifting sands of Moore's Massachusetts accent, which was by turns over-the-top, inaccurate, and occasionally disappeared altogether. Moore is obviously one of our most talented actresses, so the question remains just how purposefully gaudy the accent was meant to be in the name of comedy.

    Nicole Kidman in Nine Perfect Strangers

    Kidman played Masha Dmitrichenko, a wellness guru and possible (probable) grifter at the center of Hulu's limited series. Masha's Russian roots posed an accent challenge for Kidman, whose native Australian is put on the back burner in favor of other accents so often, it's almost hard to trust her actual accent when you hear it. Kidman's accent work varies in quality from project to project, but many viewers found her attempt at Russian for Masha wildly distracting.

    David Boreanaz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

    Thankfully, Boreanaz was only called upon to brandish his incredibly wobbly Irish brogue in selected flashback episodes where Angel's past — first as a drunken villager and then as a marauding vampire — were pertinent to the story. His particular combination of wandering between the poles of "too much" and "barely there" are common in bad accent work, and most viewers were grateful when he could leave the Irish behind.

    Michael Rapaport in Justified

    Justified called upon many actors and actresses to do their best job at a Kentucky accent over the course of its six seasons, and most of them acquitted themselves quite well. And then there was Rapaport, the dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker whose attempts to portray gator-farming Darryl Crowe Jr. resulted in some of the most aggressive, garbled, mystifying accent work on television.

    Stephen Moyer in True Blood

    Unlike Justified, True Blood had no interest in its cast performing subtly accurate versions of its characters' southern accents. The Louisiana bayou, overrun with intensely sexual vampires, was home to a cavalcade of gumbo-drenched theatrics and triple-thick accents. Which is why it's impressive that Essex-born Stephen Moyer managed to stand out for having the least believable Southern drawl of them all. The English actor's attempts at 1800s chivalry were always just a bit too much, and his oft repeated entreaties to his beloved "Sookeh" Stackhouse were the stuff of much mockery.

    Yael Stone in Orange Is the New Black

    Look, we're not going to pretend it was an easy task for Aussie actress Yael Stone to portray a working-class Italian American serving out a prison sentence. That task was made even harder when her character, Lorna Morello, was written as a Boston native but with a Brooklynite mother, resulting in a truly unholy marriage of two of the heaviest, hardest American dialects. The resulting hybrid accent was … a lot. But it also really worked for Morello, who herself was also a lot.

    Michael C. Hall in Safe

    After establishing himself on shows like Six Feet Under and Dexter, Michael C. Hall's next big TV project was the British mystery series Safe, in which Hall played the father of two teenage daughters in an English suburb and one of them goes missing. Hall's English accent stuck out so much that it was the headline of the Guardian's review and a major preoccupation in several others.

    Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

    Yeah, yeah, the Emmys and the acclaim and the global popularity, but we all need to be strong enough to admit that Peter Dinklage's accent as Tyrion Lannister was insane. While it's true that Westeros is not a real place and thus we cannot know what a proper Westerosi accent sounds like — and that's without even getting into regional dialects, about which there are surely thousands of wikis dedicated to their every nerdy nuance — but the accepted reality was that everybody on the show was doing British accents of some extraction or another, and American Peter Dinklage made a meal out of his. He's proof that having a completely nutso accent on TV doesn't mean you can't be wildly successful, so maybe Julia Garner and Inventing Anna are onto something.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Inventing Anna, 30 Rock, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones, Justified, Nine Perfect Strangers, Orange Is the New Black, Safe, True Blood, David Boreanaz, Julia Garner, Julianne Moore, Michael C. Hall, Michael Rapaport, Nicole Kidman, Peter Dinklage, Stephen Moyer, Yael Stone