What do you do if you’ve been revealed as a scammer and a fraud, served two years in an American prison, and are now under house arrest in an apartment in New York? Answer: start a podcast. Yep, Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin, but who cares), the “fake German heiress” who managed to swindle over a quarter of a million dollars out of banks, hotels and individuals dazzled by her (again, fake) life story, is back. The subject of endless media fascination since her trial in 2018 and of last year’s hit Netflix series Inventing Anna, in The Anna Delvey Show she is speaking for herself. “Now you get to meet the real me!” she trills in the trailer, over a jangly pop tune that sounds like music for a tampon advert. The podcast, Delvey declares, will “question traditional notions of what’s right and wrong”.
This might seem a little on the nose for a project released in the same week that one of Delvey’s former lawyers announced she was suing her for $152,000 of unpaid legal fees. But Delvey seems quite comfortable making her crimes part of her brand. That is, after all, why she became famous in the first place, so why not lean in? Why not ask her guests – yes, her podcast has guests, of the actor-singer-writer-model-influencer variety – if they’ve ever been arrested? Why not introduce her first interviewee, the actor and comedian Whitney Cummings, by gushing about how she watched her show “when I was in jail, on my jail tablet”?
The answer for normal people would be: because it’s incredibly distasteful. But Delvey isn’t normal. Within five minutes she and Cummings are justifying cheating your way to the top and musing on what “criminal” really means. After that, it becomes unlistenable: an hour-long asinine rant about how blonde women have it easier than brunettes and the perils of dating men in New York, underpinned by lots of manic giggling. We’re not going to learn anything about Delvey, except that she still doesn’t think she did anything wrong. This podcast serves no purpose but to relaunch her brand. The scary thing is, it will probably work.
[See also: Do we need another political podcast?]
This article appears in the 14 Jun 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Over and Out