Netflix paid con artist Anna Sorokin $320k and made her the star of her victims' story

Anna Sorokin, a convicted con-artist who fleeced friends and businesses alike, was paid $320,000 by Netflix for her story. Moreover, she is now the titular star of a fictionalized drama, Inventing Anna, which casts her in a sympathetic light—and her victims as hypocrites.

Rachel Williams, whose writing in Vanity Fair exposed Sorokin's crimes to a wide audience, was taken for $62,000. Williams received mean treatment in the show, which was created and produced by Shonda Rimes. Here's how Netflix describes Williams, the unambigious victim of a convicted fraudster:

"a natural-born follower whose blind worship of Anna almost destroys her job, her credit, and her life. But while her relationship with Anna is her greatest regret, the woman she becomes because of Anna may be Anna's greatest creation."

This kind of Dwight Schrutesque cliché infests the show's storytelling—I watched until it had scenes of lawyers and journalists talking like this to each other and I just couldn't go on.

Williams has good points about the problems with the show, that creating empathy for someone incapable of empathy and glamorizing unrepentant living criminals is problematic.

But here's another way of looking at it. Netflix and Shonda Rimes(!) ended up hyping Sorokin and posing her victims as NPCs because Sorokin is an outstanding con artist. They were marks. The gift of the con artist is to make marks blind to the self-destructive consequences of their own impulses. They transmute the mark's empathy into confidence, make the mark pay the tab, then burn them to the ground.

As Sorokin herself told the BBC after it emerged how much she was getting paid and was asked if crime pays: "in a way."