Just when you thought Sam Bankman-Fried had satiated your appetite for grifter drama, Elisabeth Finch, the infamous Grey’s Anatomy writer who lied about a whole host of fucked up things, has reentered the chat.
In an article that dropped on a Substack publication called The Ankler Wednesday afternoon titled “The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Liar Confesses it All,” Finch tries to explain how and why she constructed a successful Hollywood career as a television writer atop a throne of lies. Meanwhile, we have no way of knowing if the disgraced writer is still lying, but considering the particular brand of Finch’s past lies (the pathological sort), she probably is.
If you’ll recall, Finch’s name first splashed onto tabloids in March when her decade-long grift about a rare cancer diagnosis, an abortion, and a kidney from Anna Paquin came undone in a story by The Ankler. The tip had arrived after Disney, which owns ABC, and production company Shondaland, which is behind the hit Grey’s show, placed its star writer on leave. Her bosses had discovered that Finch, who supposedly wrote storylines into the show based upon her own medical grievances and then wrote multiple essays about said storylines, had apparently faked a cancer diagnosis and abortion while undergoing chemotherapy, “among other subjects.” She later resigned from the show and checked into a rehab and has been relatively quiet ever since.
But now, Finch—whom the writer feels obligated to tell us is “wearing a white embroidered dress, a purple shawl and a blanket draped over her lap to stave off the afternoon chill”—is ready to explain away or at least apologize for some of her lies. Finally, she has admitted that she never had any form of cancer.
“What I did was wrong,” Finch said. “Not OK. Fucked up. All the words.”
Over the course of four interviews, Finch says mostly that her outlandish lies were due to past trauma. And she is sorry she lied. And she can’t even remember how many lies she told. Again, she is very sorry for being such a horrible liar—some might even say a worse liar than Love Island’s Ekin-Su. Oh, and she lied about her brother dying by suicide, but he is in fact not dead!
“When you get wrapped up in a lie you forget who you told—what you said to this person and whether this person knows that thing—and that’s the world where you can get caught,” Finch said, apparently “in a voice that starts to quaver,” according to the writer. “I don’t have to worry about that now.”
“We worked with someone who not only said she was sick with cancer but looked sick with cancer,” one of Finch’s colleagues told The Antler. “[Our coworker] lost her hair, whose skin was yellow and green, who had a visible chemo port bandage, who regularly took breaks to vomit, who only ate saltines for long periods of time and who wrote and talked about her experiences all the time.”
While working at Grey’s, Finch faked a rare cancer diagnosis of chondrosarcoma (which she now says she chose because it’s an incredibly difficult cancer to treat), taped a dummy catheter to her arm, shaved her head as if her hair had fallen out due to chemotherapy, lied about losing a kidney due to chemotherapy, and pretended that she was forced to abort a fetus because chemotherapy made the pregnancy “impossible.” Recalling her workplace, she said: “I really miss it. I miss my fellow writers. It’s like a family and…one of the things that makes it so hard is that they did rally around a false narrative that I gave.”
Apparently, Finch has been personally and professionally canceled, saying her phone doesn’t ring, her emails go unanswered, that her wife left her, and that several family members no longer speak to her. She says she lied because—in short—it was her coping mechanism for trauma she endured from her not-dead brother as a child. She told The Ankler that she wants to write for The Handmaid’s Tale next (please god no), and that she really wants Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s, to see and acknowledge her.
“I know it’s absolutely wrong what I did,” she said. “I lied and there’s no excuse for it. But there’s context for it. The best way I can explain it is when you experience a level of trauma a lot of people adopt a maladaptive coping mechanism. Some people drink to hide or forget things. Drug addicts try to alter their reality. Some people cut. I lied. That was my coping and my way to feel safe and seen and heard.”
I’m not sure whether we’re supposed to be feeling sympathy for this woman or just gawking at this whole spectacle, but if I know anything about a scandal, it’s that it will continue to give.