Shonda Rhimes' First Netflix Series Could Be Based On An Intriguing Real-Life Woman
Shondaland's first big Netflix production could take on none other than the fascinating con woman, Anna Delvey. As reported by Deadline, Netflix and Shonda Rhimes are working on a series based on the May 28 New York Magazine's The Cut article "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People" by Jessica Pressler. The article unravels the true story behind the rise and fall of Delvey, a young woman from Russia, who rubbed elbows with some of New York's most elite citizens, but she wasn't all that she seemed. Netflix has yet to officially confirm the news, but Rhimes retweeted an article from Variety stating that it will be her first Netflix series. (Bustle reached out for comment to Netflix and Rhimes' reps, but did not immediately hear back.)
According to Deadline, since the article was published, there has been major interest in Delvey's story from multiple sources in Hollywood. However, Netflix and Rhimes appear to have ultimately won the rights to turn the show into what could be the super-producer's first series for Netflix since she signed a deal with the streaming giant in 2017. As an added bonus, Rhimes is also signed on to write the series — the first she's created since Scandal (the other shows that have come out of Shondaland in recent years have been written and created by other writers).
While it's still early days yet, it's hard not to feel like Rhimes is the perfect person to tell this story of New York City intrigue. Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, is currently in Rikers Island where she was remanded without bail in October 2017. According to Variety, she was indicted on multiple counts of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, as well as theft of services. People reported that Delvey pleaded not guilty. On June 5, The Cut reported that if a plea deal is not reached, Delvey's trial could happen “sometime this summer,” according to presiding Judge Diane Kiesel. Sorkin's story is at once mind-boggling and undeniably compelling. If the reports are true, Delvey fits as one of Rhimes' classic antihero, but she's real.
It also helps that Delvey is just one part of the story. According to The Cut, Pressler was able to tell her fascinating story thanks in part to Neffatari Davis, a filmmaker who worked as a concierge at 11 Howard, where Delvey stayed in New York City. Delvey befriended Davis, bringing her into the world of socialites, celebrities, and trust fund kids that Davis didn't realize until much later, her friend was allegedly swindling out of a great deal of money.
At this stage, there's no way to know how Rhimes plans to frame the story, but a show that emphasized the friendship between the make-believe heiress and Davis has the potential to be a meaty story of female friendship under wild circumstances in modern day New York. While Davis doesn't condone Delvey's alleged actions, she does seem to be blown away by the sheer ease with which the young woman made a complex life for herself in New York City.
Delvey told The Cut that her intentions to build her club were pure. When Pressler visited her at Rikers Island, Delvey explained,
"I was never trying to be a socialite. I had dinners, but they were work dinners. I wanted to be taken seriously. If I really wanted the money, I would have better and faster ways to get some. Resilience is hard to come by, but not capital."
If anyone could do Delvey's story justice, it's Rhimes, a writer who has been creating complicated women with a myriad of motivations since her career began. Unlike the papers that dismissed Delvey as someone who stole money to shop, the Grey's Anatomy creator is sure to mine the rich layers of her story, much in the way that Pressler's The Cut piece did.
Delvey's tale is one of intrigue, drive, and deception. But it's a story of making it in New York by any means necessary, that's full of equally interesting characters and unexpected twists. It's the Rhimes series the world deserves — fingers crossed the wait to see it won't be too long.