’20/20’s Amy Robach & David Muir on How Real Life Is ‘Stranger Than Fiction’

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ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua

Having transitioned from the standard newsmagazine to a two-hour documentary-style format, the venerated 20/20, now in its 42nd season, is leaning even further into viewers’ fascination with factual malfeasance.

“True crime satiates this need we all have to figure out who did something, why they did it and how it can possibly be prevented,” says coanchor Amy Robach. “Hollywood scripts often pale in comparison to real life, and truth is often stranger than fiction.”

Fittingly, the season opens with an exclusive interview from the entertainment world: Las Vegas icons Siegfried & Roy weigh in on recent allegations of human error surrounding the 2003 tiger attack that ended their stage show.

But don’t expect 20/20‘s take to be tabloid-y. “Everyone who trusts us to tell their story — oftentimes about the absolute worst thing that’s ever happened to them — deserves respect and journalistic integrity,” Robach adds.

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Indeed, it’s that dedication to getting the facts straight that has benefitted the most from expanded episodes. “These two-hour programs have allowed our team to take often much-needed deeper dives,” explains coanchor David Muir. “I always say, no matter how dark a story might be, there must be something we can all learn [from it].”

Coming up, he says: a “profoundly moving” interview with Payton Leutner, the girl stabbed 19 times in 2014 by two friends who wanted to impress the fictional Slenderman character, and a look at healthcare injustices in rural America.

(Credit: ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua)

Muir believes the investigations make an impact not because of the horrifying acts they detail but because of the humans who endure and overcome. “Their stories can get lost in the political noise of our time,” he says. “I hope we are able to break through that noise and give these [people] the voice they deserve.”

20/20, Season Premiere, Friday, September 27, 9/8c, ABC