The Tinder Swindler on Netflix is currently captivating audiences and inspiring countless memes as we collectively shake our heads in infinite vex over how this most basic fuckboy convinced multiple women worldwide to part with their money to the tune of millions of dollars, posing as the self-proclaimed Prince of Diamonds when he barely even qualified as cubic zirconia royalty.
The success of the film and buzz surrounding it isn’t surprising, we love a good scam story, especially one that makes us feel snidely smug while we tell ourselves, “that could never be me.” Scam artists getting the big and small screen treatment isn’t anything new, in just the past few years, there have been several fiction and non-fiction pieces of content dedicated to deception. The story of the schadenfreude-inducing Billy McFarland fail that was Fyre Fest spawned not one, but two documentaries, the Emmy-nominated 2020 series McMillions, documented story of how a man named Jerry Jacobson corrupted the popular McDonalds Monopoly between 1989 and 2001 in a 24 million dollar fraud, the story of con artist and sociopath John Meehan inspired not only a Dirty John podcast, but also a scripted miniseries starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana, and then there’s Martin Shkreli, owner of the most punchable face on Earth, once dubbed “the most hated man in America” for raising the price of live-saving pharmaceuticals, who got the doc treatment in 2021’s “Pharma Bro” after being convicted of securities fraud. What is new, though, is that female fraudsters are finally getting their due with high-profile girl grifters securing some serious screen time.
Currently streaming on Netflix alongside The Tinder Swindler is Inventing Anna a scripted series documenting the now infamous rise and fall of Anna Sorokin aka Anna Delvey who, while posing as a German heiress, defrauded multiple banks, and several members of New York’s upper echelon before being charged with grand larceny and theft of services. Ozark‘s Julia Garner plays the titular character who gamed investors out of tens of thousands of dollars for her so-called exclusive SoHo House-style club while living the luxe life, stiffing high-profile friends and hotels along the way. Sorokin achieved cult status and became a pseudo celebrity after a profile in New York magazine. Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky plays a fictionalized version of the reporter who penned the piece. Interestingly enough, that same real life reporter, Jessica Pressler, wrote another high-profile piece about females who fleece: a group of New York city strippers who swindled their male customers out of thousands of dollars. That 2015 article would eventually provide the inspiration for the 2019 feature film Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez and the group’s ringleader.
Inventing Anna has some serious starpower producing power behind it with Shonda Rhimes as its writer and executive producer as part of her groundbreaking jump to Netflix. Rhimes is certainly no stranger to telling stories about interesting and complicated female characters having been the creative force behind Grey’s Anatomy‘s Meredith Grey, Scandal‘s Olivia Pope, and How To Get Away With Murder‘s Annalise Keating. While the TV titan is certainly no stranger to female antiheroes, Inventing Anna marks Shondaland’s first foray into those of the non-fiction variety. When the prolific producer first read the aforementioned New York magazine piece about Sorokin, she was immediately “obsessed,” revealing in a production featurette “I remember calling my office and saying, ‘there’s this article and we have to get it.” She goes on to call Anna a “fascinating creature” saying, “she’s a villain’s villain, if you know what I mean. You kind of can’t help but admire her.”
While we’re not advocating swindling, scamming, and defrauding people, if these stories are going to be told, it’s about time we’re just as fascinated by the women at the heart of these hoodwinking heists as we are by manipulative mad men. Hustlers and Inventing Anna aren’t the only fraudulent female stories being told. Elizabeth Holmes, the key figure at the centre of the Theranos scandal, who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy after bilking investors out of 700 million dollars in what was believed to be a revolutionary advancement in blood testing technology that proved to be bogus, is the subject of upcoming high-profile pieces of content. Holmes has already inspired the super successful ABC News podcast, The Dropout as well as the 2019 HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley and the 2018 book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup on which it’s based. Next, she’ll get the dramatic treatment with Amanda Seyfriend playing her in the upcoming Hulu miniseries, also titled The Dropout which premieres March 3rd. Then there’s the upcoming Adam McKay-directed feature which will see Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence play the disgraced founder who once graced the covers of Fortune and Forbes magazines.
Clearly we can’t get enough of the turtleneck-sporting, Steve Jobs-cosplaying charlatan with the curiously deep voice. Seyfried told Harper’s Bazaar she “prepared like a motherfucker” for the role and “studied the shit” out of Holmes’ deposition tapes in preparation for the role. While whether The Dropout series or the upcoming Jennifer Lawrenence feature will be any good or reveal anything we don’t already know, there’s something oddly satisfying about seeing female fraudsters like Holmes and Sorokin in the spotlight. Conning people isn’t an “art” form reserved exclusively for men, so we Stan the equality of it all. After all, representation matters, right? Move over, The Tinder Swindler, it’s lady scammer season.