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9 Scammer Shows to Watch If You Like Inventing Anna

If you like shows based on real-life grifts, there are SO MANY of them

liam-mathews-headshot2.jpg
Liam Mathews
Julia Garner, Inventing Anna

Julia Garner, Inventing Anna

David Giesbrecht/Netflix

The based-on-a-true-crime drama Inventing Anna kicked off this spring's tidal wave of based-on-a-true-scam stories. While Hulu's The Dropout seems to be the one people liked the best, Inventing Anna is the most-watched. It's the most popular limited series Netflix has ever released. It introduced people all over the world to the fascinating story of Anna Delvey, a grifter who made supposedly savvy New Yorkers believe she had tens of millions of dollars in the bank simply because she acted like she did — and people greedily thought they could make money off of her. 

Inventing Anna follows a reporter named Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky) — a fictionalized rendering of journalist Jessica Pressler, who wrote the viral New York Magazine article on which Inventing Anna is based — as she tries to unravel a mystery that keeps her up at night: How did Anna Delvey, a young Russian-born German citizen legally named Anna Sorokin, convince members of New York City's high society that she was a German heiress worth investing in? To find out, she interviews Delvey (Julia Garner) in jail, as well as Delvey's friends/victims, and they all tell their side of the story about how Anna made them believe in her, in spite of her vague backstory, shady behavior, and general lack of social graces. 

Watch Inventing Anna Now on Netflix

If you watched all nine episodes of Inventing Anna and wish there were more, we've rounded up some other recent shows that feel like Inventing Anna in some way. The list features documentaries or based-on-a-true-story limited series about liars, scammers, snake oil salespeople, and businesspeople who got money from people who should have known better. There are also a couple of earlier shows from the people who invented Inventing Anna


Pam & Tommy

Sebastian Stan and Lily James, Pam & Tommy

Sebastian Stan and Lily James, Pam & Tommy

Erin Simkin/Hulu

This Hulu limited series kicked off 2022's based-on-a-true-story event series boom. It's not a scammer series, which is a subgenre of the larger news story adaptation limited series genre. The reason it's like Inventing Anna because it's a deep dive into the imagined psyche of a misunderstood real-life woman, in this case actress Pamela Anderson, whose sextape with her husband Tommy Lee was stolen and published. Her life become a lurid tabloid scandal through no fault of her own. Lily James, does an extraordinary transformation to become Pamela Anderson, especially vocally, like Julia Garner did to become Anna Delvey. And like Inventing Anna and other shows on this list, it just has that particular "fictionalizing a story you already know" vibe that can be satisfying when done right. 


WeCrashed

Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto, WeCrashed

Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto, WeCrashed

Apple TV+

The last Bad Entrepreneur I.P. adaptation to hit streaming during the spring's scammer wave was AppleTV+'s WeCrashed, which tells the story of the rise and fall of co-working startup WeWork and is based on a podcast of the same name. Jared Leto stars as Adam Neumann, the charismatic and delusional founder of WeWork, and Anne Hathaway as his wife Rebekah, who has her own delusions of grandeur that sometimes align with her husband's and sometimes come into conflict. The story is a little different from Inventing Anna because the Neumanns weren't grifters — they really did build a successful company, for a time — but like Anna Delvey, they were able to convince people that they were a worthwhile investment until the actual numbers got crunched. Anthony Edwards, who plays Anna's gullible attorney on Inventing Anna, plays a similar role here as an investor who gets blinded by Adam Neumann's charisma.  


Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.

Sarma Melngailis, Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.

Sarma Melngailis, Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.

Netflix

The docuseries is Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. is one of Netflix's best true crime shows in a while. It follows Sarma Melngailis, a prominent vegan chef in New York City who ended up getting involved with an abusive con artist named "Shane Fox" (real name Anthony Strangis), which led to a downward spiral of theft, fraud, and lamming it that reached an ironic climax when Melngailis and Strangis got caught because Strangis ordered a Domino's pizza to their hotel. It's another story about a charismatic New York City woman whose glamorous life involved fraud (though Melngailis is a more sympathetic figure than Anna Delvey; Anthony Strangis is the real villain of Bad Vegan). The former location of Melngailis' famous restaurant Pure Food & Wine and the historic building where Delvey wanted to build her members only club are a six-minute walk from each other, if you're ever in Manhattan's Gramercy neighborhood and want to visit some iconic scam locations. 


More recommendations:


The Dropout

Amanda Seyfried, The Dropout

Amanda Seyfried, The Dropout

Beth Dubber/Hulu

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' scam was even bigger than Anna Delvey's, and she actually did manage to get the funding that Delvey only came close to securing. As depicted in Hulu's hit limited series, Holmes infamously became a Silicon Valley sensation by selling investors on a medical technology startup whose product, a revolutionary blood-testing machine, not only didn't exist, but was physically impossible. Like Anna Delvey, Holmes (played by Amanda Seyfried) is a charismatic and weird woman with a unique accent who could persuade greedy rich people to give her their money. And like Inventing Anna, The Dropout has some comedic elements and engages in some light apologia for its subject. They were both young women fighting to be taken seriously in fields dominated by men, some of whom also commit fraud.


Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber

Elizabeth Morris/SHOWTIME

There are degrees of fraud in limited series about white collar crime. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, whose rise and fall is acted out in the limited series Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, wasn't a grifter. Quite the opposite; he really did use the money investors and customers gave him to grow his company, which became extraordinarily successful. The problem was that he was growing the company through unethical and/or illegal means. Like Inventing Anna, Super Pumped is the story of an ambitious, unscrupulous person who can convince rich people that investing in them will pay fat returns, but can't keep all the plates spinning — and when they come crashing down, it's spectacular. Super Pumped is even more of a dark comedy than Inventing Anna, so if you like your charismatic charlatan stories to be laugh-out-loud funny, watch this one next. 


Dirty John 

Julia Garner and Connie Britton, Dirty John

Julia Garner and Connie Britton, Dirty John

Bravo, Jordin Althaus/Bravo

This true crime anthology series adapts stories about women pushed to the edge by abusive men. Season 1 is the one more like Inventing Anna. It stars Connie Britton as a financially successful woman named Debra Newell who gets enraptured with a charming man she meets online, John (Eric Bana), who grows more and more controlling and abusive as it becomes clear to everyone except her that he's stealing from her. And then things get really crazy. The season features Inventing Anna star Julia Garner in a heavily accented supporting performance as Debra's daughter Terra, so if you're a Garner completist, you have to watch. Season 2 stars Amanda Peet as a Betty Broderick, a woman who murdered her ex-husband and his second wife in 1989 for reasons that are not justified but are understandable.


The Thing About Pam 

Renée Zellweger, The Truth About Pam

Renée Zellweger, The Truth About Pam

Skip Bolen/NBC

If you like your true crime dramedies a little less glamorous and a lot more murderous, check out The Thing About Pam. Renée Zellweger stars as Pam Hupp, a sociopathic Midwestern woman who went on a chaotic crime spree in the early 2010s that got documented on a Dateline podcast also called The Thing About Pam. She's a grifter who took things further than anyone else on this list. The Thing About Pam is set in a very different world than Inventing Anna is, and the crimes are much more consequential, but they're both true crime adaptations featuring showy, darkly hilarious lead performances from award-winning actresses. 


Ozark

Julia Garner, Ozark

Julia Garner, Ozark

Netflix

Ozark and Inventing Anna aren't actually that much alike, except for one hugely significant thing: Julia Garner, the Meryl Streep of her generation. Garner has won two Emmys for her breakout performance as Ruth Langmore, a resourceful teenage crook who uses her wits and cunning to improve her lot in life, and we won't be surprised if she wins a third for her performance in the show's final season. Ozark is a brutally violent thriller about drug trafficking and money laundering, but Ruth Langmore and Anna Delvey actually have a lot in common. They're both ambitious, intelligent young women whose outsider status prevents them from accessing money, power, and respect through traditional means, so they do it on their own illegal terms. And like in Dirty John and Inventing Anna, Garner does exceptional accent work. She's a vocal chameleon. Does anyone even know what Julia Garner's actual voice sounds like? 


The Catch

Peter Krause and Mireille Enos, The Catch

Peter Krause and Mireille Enos, The Catch

Richard Cartwright, ABC

The specifics of The Catch are different from Inventing Anna, but it's a Shondaland show about a con artist, so the overall vibe is pretty similar. It's a breezy, quippy drama with elaborate scams and glamorous costumes. Mireille Enos stars as Alice Vaughan, Los Angeles' top private investigator, who is pursuing Mr. X, a thief who's always one step ahead of her. And the reason he's always one step ahead of her is that he's her fiancé (Peter Krause). In the pilot, he absconds with all of her money and client data. So the rest of the show follows Alice as she pursues Mr. X, and follows Mr. X as he carries out his cons, along with Alice's employees as they work the case of the week. And of course, there's the complication that Alice is still in love with the charming scoundrel who took everything from her. The show ran for two 10-episode seasons on ABC from 2016 to 2017, so it's a pretty quick binge. If you want a show that's breezy fun like Inventing Anna, this would be a good one to watch next.