Netflix gets another slap: who sued the giant and what it has to do with Inventing Anna

Netflix is facing legal action for adding fictional features of a real person to one of its dramas. In this case it’s the famous series Inventing Anna, and the real person is former Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel Williams, who has been transformed into a character in Shonda Rhimes’ production.

“This action shows us that Netflix made a deliberate decision, for dramatic purposes, to show Williams doing or saying things on the show that portray her as greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative, and opportunistic,” a complaint filed in Delaware federal court states.

Netflix allegedly used Rachel’s real name and specific details and made her “seem like a horrible person”

The lawsuit seeks to end with damages (it is not known how much the plaintiff wants) and will be a jury trial. An injunction is also wanted to have the allegedly defamatory material in Inventing Anna, involving Williams, edited and republished. The series premiered on Netflix on February 11.

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“The reason we had to start this lawsuit is because Netflix used Rachel’s real name and biographical details and made her seem like a horrible person, which she is not,” attorney Alexander Rufus-Isaacs said in a statement to Deadline after filing the lawsuit on the record.

“The devastating damage to her reputation could have been avoided if Netflix had used a fictitious name and different details. Why didn’t they do that for her when they did it for so many other characters on the show? Perhaps the reason was that she chose to play for the other team, i.e. HBO.”

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Inspired by Jessica Pressler’s 2018 article in The New York Magazine, “How an aspiring girl fooled rich New Yorkers and banks,” Shondaland and Netflix jointly told Anna’s story in Inventing Anna and then paid her $320,000. Sorokin was in prison at the time and is now deported from the US.

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