Sunday, February 13, 2022

REVIEW: 'Inventing Anna' - Vivian Reaches the Deadline on the Anna Story and Her Due Date to Give Birth in 'Cash on Delivery'

Netflix's Inventing Anna - Episode 1.07 "Cash on Delivery"

Under pressure to finish the Anna article and with her baby's due date imminent, Vivian tries to contact Rachel to hear her side of the Marrakech fiasco.

"Cash on Delivery" was written by Abby Ajayi and directed by Nzingha Stewart

Vivian's pregnancy gave her a natural deadline to finish her article about Anna. It's just so dramatic to watch that play out physically as she is literally calling a source while in labor. It's outrageous and pure camp. It's a way to dramatize a writer being forced to finish instead of continually tinkering with what they have been focused on for months. Anna believes she can still get Rachel to tell her side of the story. That never happens. Rachel still has agency in this story. She takes that on herself. It's awhile before she learns to be powerful and confident even in being selfish. She has to protect herself. No one else is going to do so. Failure to do that will only lead to more criminal exposure on her behalf. To reclaim her narrative, she publishes her own story. That causes everyone around Vivian to fear that they've been scooped. All the months of hard work were for nothing. It's portrayed as everything seen from Rachel's perspective is included in the article she delivered herself. Vivian isn't intimidated by it because her piece is about so much more. It features in-depth reporting that hopefully explains how Anna was able to scam people for so long. People are still reluctant to doubt her ability to pay. Neff still views Anna as a genuine friend. She is simply misunderstood. Her problems aren't unique to her. They are just a failing of a system of wealth that leaves their children feeling entitled. Anna was never to blame. It can all be blamed on the parents. And yet, those people have never been a priority in the story. They don't play a role at all. Vivian doesn't track them down to fact check Anna's story of the trust fund she has. Its existence guaranteed so much for her. It was all a lie. People were fooled because they simply wanted to be around Anna. At the end of the day, Vivian explains it as Anna having some money and knowing how to live in this particular world that afforded her so much latitude. She could simply demand that people take her seriously. She walked with impressive stature and the aura of belonging amongst this world of the privileged. That allowed many to buy into the fantasy. And yet, she isn't special. She was certainly blunt in telling others that. It's hilarious to watch Jack and Vivian yell that out in the delivery room. That showcases the impact this story has had on them. It's still a clumsy way to articulate the pull to finish the article.

It all comes with the backdrop of seeing Anna essentially homeless. It's all in support of the idea that she is forever running away from consequences. It is always someone else's fault. Rachel is left waiting for months to get repaid for the trip to Morocco. Meanwhile, Anna leaves everyone believing that she was the one truly traumatized. She was abandoned by her friends and subjected to the strict monitoring of a foreign country. In the aftermath, she is still doing the exact same things. She checks in and out of hotels without ever paying for them. She believes she can always walk through the door and be welcomed. People grow wiser eventually. That's only after she has defrauded them out of thousands of dollars. So many fall victim to her scheme. And yet, she is on the subway eating an abandoned Shake Shack meal. That's meant to be her rock bottom. It's stylized as such. Afterwards, she finds an upswing once more. She cons money out of people with the expectation of living the city for good. She can start over anew in Los Angeles where no one knows her and her crimes. She can't avoid the criminal justice system though. The judge issues a warrant for her arrest before the assistant district attorney even knows the scale of Anna's crimes. Rachel is the one who gets the ball rolling in that regard. She isn't taken seriously by the police. Vanity Fair believes she was part of the criminal conspiracy. Taking back her power is suggested as turning her life around because she isn't letting other people control her. That isn't really accepting accountability for her role in what happened. She was incredibly trusting of people. She is a good friend. Her time with Anna could make her doubt her instincts. She has Kacy's friendship though. That means so little of this actually carries a lot of power. It's actually just a bunch of weird storytelling choices that are meant to convey drama and tension while actually being quite ridiculous. That undercuts the message the show hopes to share about money and its corrosive nature in the 21st century.