Netflix Facing Major Lawsuit Over One Of Its Best Shows

Netflix is currently staring down a lawsuit having to do with one of its more popular and acclaimed shows.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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After airing a successful batch of documentaries and dramatizations about real-life people pretending to be someone they’re not, Netflix finds itself in the middle of a lawsuit. Earlier this week, Rachel Williams portrayed in Inventing Anna by Katie Lowes, filed court papers claiming the series falsely depicted her as unethical, greedy, snobbish, and disloyal. The former Vanity Fair staffer was a friend of Anna Sorokin, the convicted fraudster at the center of the show. But she was ultimately defrauded by her bestie and wrote an article about the experience.

Now, Williams has opened a case of defamation and false light invasion of privacy against Netflix. The former photo editor previously detailed her misgivings with the series to Vanity Fair, saying the show let Sorokin off too easily. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Delaware, also claims Inventing Anna includes 16 separate sets of defamatory statements about Williams. Throughout the nine-episode dramatization, she is seen mooching off Sorokin, abandoning her in Morocco, hiding her role in facilitating Sorokin’s arrest, and other contemptible conduct.

According to her attorney, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, Williams suffered tremendous online backlash in the wake of Inventing Anna. Moreover, the lawsuit says the statements are defamatory because they tend to expose Williams to public contempt, ridicule, aversion, or disgrace. The documents add that the portrayal of their client induced an evil opinion of her without resorting to any other source. “This action will show that Netflix made a deliberate decision (for dramatic purposes) to show Williams doing or saying things which portray her as a dishonest, cowardly, manipulative, and opportunistic person,” the complaint continued.

Created and produced by Shonda Rhimes, Inventing Anna is inspired by the story of Russian-born con artist Anna Sorokin. Under the assumed name Anna Delvey, she successfully tricks members of New York City’s high society into believing she is a German heiress with access to a substantial fortune. She uses this persona to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, goods, and services while working towards her goal of opening an exclusive art-themed club. The series made its Netflix debut on February 11th, with Julia Garner starring as Anna Sorokin.

Following its release, the Netflix series received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances but criticized the inconsistent tone of the story. However, Inventing Anna still holds a 64% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. In real life, Anna Sorokin was convicted in New York state court in 2019. She was found guilty of attempted grand larceny, larceny in the second degree, and theft of services. After being sentenced to four to 12 years of jail time, Sorokin was released on good behavior two years later. She is currently in an ICE detention center as her lawyer attempts to appeal her deportation.

Over the years, Sorokin’s shenanigans become legendary in some social circles, with Jessica Pressler penning an article about her called How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People. The streamer later purchased the rights to a production relating to the con artist and developed the adaptation of her story. Interestingly, Rhimes and her Shondaland banner are not defendants in the suit. The sole defendant is Netflix who did not respond to requests for comment from various news outlets. All nine episodes of Inventing Anna are currently available to stream on Netflix.