I’d been having the kind of January where I cannot for the life of me find a show that captures my attention, and while I can often go months at a time where I don’t watch any television (reading and doom scrolling Instagram fills my days), the January/February stretch calls out for something to binge.
Finally, though, a Netflix trailer dropped for a television series that gave me something to anticipate. Inventing Anna is based on the 2018 The Cut piece “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People.” I’m not a true crime person, per se. I dabble, but not the way some people are obsessed. I am, however, a scammer person. Elizabeth Holmes? Read everything I can (I’m particularly obsessed with her fake voice). MLMs? Yes, I do want to be an independent business owner! I think I’m a cult person too, which is ostensibly a scam taken to new heights.
Anna Delvey is a German ex-pat who parlayed an internship with a trendy rich-person French magazine into an invented persona. As the article’s title suggests, she posed as a German heiress, integrating herself into New York’s wealthy party scene and borrowing/stealing money from acquaintances and investors to fund her made-up life. The genesis of the Anna Devely story is that rich people are careless with their money when dealing with other rich people, and if you can convince rich people you’re one of them, their wallets are open for you. It’s fascinating stuff.
Not only did the trailer for Inventing Anna give me something to look forward to binging in February, but it also reminded me just how much I love scammer stories. I spent this past Friday night watching WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of $47 Billion Unicorn on Hulu. For those who don’t know, WeWork is essentially a shared workspace company that posed as a technology startup and scammed investors before LOSING billions of dollars. WeWork’s CEO, Adam Neuman, is the living embodiment of corporate yogababble and a certifiable psychopath. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Neumann allegedly “had aspirations to live forever, become the world’s first trillionaire, expand WeWork to the planet Mars, become Israel’s prime minister, and become ‘president of the world.'”
In her 2019 book, Trick Mirror, writer Jia Tolentino argues in a brilliant essay titled “The Story of a Generation in Seven Scams” that at this point, scamming is a cornerstone of American society. I think she’s right. Anna Delvey and Adam Neumann are great examples of this. So is our current political landscape—half the country was scammed into thinking a thrice bankrupted failed reality TV star with severe, severe daddy issues would make a great president, and half of those people have been scammed into thinking taking a livestock dewormer is smarter than getting a vaccine. Most egregiously, I was scammed during the recent Asheville Restaurant Week.
I’ve been pretty adept at exploring many of Asheville’s prominent eateries during my two-year tenure here (two years this week!), but as we’re want to do, have lately fallen into a bit of a pattern, going to the same places over and over. This would be the perfect opportunity to insert somewhere new into my repertoire. The choice? Copper Crown, a restaurant on Tunnel Road that frequently is recommended in all kinds of “best of” lists, but I’ve never been to since it’s on Tunnel Road (and not even the chain-restaurant mania of just-outside-downtown Tunnel Road, but deep Tunnel Road heading out towards Black Mountain.
The Copper Crown set up their Restaurant Week menu to look like the typical prix fixe setup Restaurant Weeks love—an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $30.00. Now, in their defense, I didn’t look at the rest of the menu when deciding on where to eat for Restaurant Week, just the Restaurant Week menu. If I had, I might have noticed that the Restaurant Week prix fixe menu was actually made up of two appetizers and a dessert and that neither of the appetizers were priced differently than they were on the regular menu, even though the menu was formatted to appear otherwise.
When questioned about this, The Copper Crown server explained that yes, these were both small plates, not entrees and that yes, the special wasn’t as much prix fixe as it was buy-two-appetizers-and-get-a-free-dessert. I felt scammed and slightly annoyed after putting in my order, but had to give it to them, they got me in a seat, right?
The thing about scammers is that while they often get exposed, they also often win.
Netflix paid Anna Delvey $320,000 for the rights to her life story (sure, she’s currently in ICE detention, waiting to be deported, but honestly, I’d probably take $320,000 to get deported).
Editor’s note: Update: The author of this piece would willingly get deported for far less than $320,000.
Adam Neumann was given a $445 million exit payout to step down as CEO.
And Copper Crown? They won a new fan. The full-priced entree I got, the blackened catfish, was excellent, as was the crab cake appetizer with a red pepper cream sauce. I’ll be back.