Two months ago, a writer on Grey’s Anatomy, Elizabeth Finch, was put on administrative leave after it was revealed that her extensive medical history — upon which several episodes of the hospital drama had been based — was actually made up. She claimed she had bone cancer that had been initially misdiagnosed and that she underwent an abortion while going through chemotherapy. She also wrote about her “real-life” medical experiences in a number of publications, including ShondaRhimes.com, the website of the Grey’s creator.
It turns out, as reported in an extensive, two-part investigation of the saga over on Vanity Fair, that not only did Finch not have cancer, but her lies went much deeper. Finch also claimed that she had a kidney transplant, and implied that she had received the kidney from Anna Paquin, whom she befriended while working as a writer on True Blood. In fact, when Finch met her wife, she took her to Hawaii, where they stayed in Paquin’s house, although Finch claimed she owned part of it (she did not, and per Paquin’s representatives, she had nothing to do with a donated kidney).
You wouldn’t think that it could get worse than lying about cancer, an abortion, and a kidney transplant, but the VF article unveils details that are even ickier. A lot of these details are coming out because of a messy divorce that Finch is going through with her wife, Jennifer Beyer. Finch met Beyer in an Arizona rehab facility that she checked herself into after claiming to be suffering from PTSD. The supposed PTSD stemmed from the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. Finch not only claimed that she lost a friend in the shooting but that she had traveled to Pittsburgh the next day to help authorities “clean up the body from the synagogue floor,” which she said was in accordance with Jewish tradition. The next year, after the mass shooting in New Zealand, Finch also identified herself as “someone who stood amidst the Pittsburgh Synagogue carnage.”
None of it was true, but the story about cleaning up her friend’s body led to the unraveling of her lies. At the rehab facility, Finch met Jennifer Beyer, who was experiencing actual abuse and whose abusive husband actually took his own life (Finch claimed to have experiences with her brother that mirrored Beyer’s with her ex-husband, including claiming that her abusive brother took his life not long after Beyer’s husband took his). After they were married, Beyer began to grow suspicious, and when she started scrolling through Finch’s Facebook feed, she noticed that Finch was nowhere near Pittsburgh on the day after the Tree of Life shooting.
From there, Beyer began pulling the truth out of Finch, which ultimately led to an ugly split. Beyer also emailed Shonda Rhimes and the Grey’s showrunner to ask them to stop allowing Finch to write episodes based on Beyer’s life. Disney soon thereafter opened an HR investigation, and the rest is lurid history, recorded now on the pages of Vanity Fair.