Beanie Babies Landed Some People in Jail According to ‘Dark Side of the ’90s’ Episode

The ’90s has provided plenty of fodder for Vice’s TV series The Dark Side of the ’90s. Episodes on The Viper Room, Trash TV and TV for Teens have exposed the dark secrets that lurked behind the scenes. Viewers may be surprised to see an episode about Beanie Babies, though. The bean bag dolls were certainly a ’90s fad, but what was dark about them?

Beanie Babies pig, frog and lion
Beanie Babies | Pat Carroll/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Dark Side of the ’90s narrator Mark McGrath spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about the show by phone on July 15. McGrath was also surprised to narrate a show about the ’90s doll fad, but he assured us it gets dark. Dark Side of the ‘90s airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Vice TV.

Mark McGrath was surprised ‘Dark Side of the ’90s’ included Beanie Babies

H. Ty Warner created Beanie Babies in 1993. By the late ’90s they were collectible. To most collectors, they were just a fun hobby. Many grew in value briefly, although folks who held onto them too long are still trying to unload them. That’s not the dark side, though.

Beanie Babies collection
A Beanie Baby collection | Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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“I thought the same thing,” McGrath said. “Okay, Beanie Babies, I remember them, I guess they were cute. I was like the last demographic for Beanie Babies in the ‘90s, I could care less. It almost seemed like an arts and crafts episode. How is this possibly dark?”

The dark side of Beanie Babies

The toys themselves may have been innocent. It was the culture surrounding them that became an episode of The Dark Side of the ’90s. McGrath didn’t give away details, but previewed the amount of corruption you’re going to see in the episode.

Beanie Babies dalmatian and penguin
“Sparky” the dog and a penguin | Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“There is counterfeiting, crime, murder, tax evasion, jail in the Beanie Babies episode,” McGrath said. “It might be the darkest episode because it throws such a curveball to you. Everybody who’s reading this, do not be fooled by the title ‘Beanie Babies Go Bust’. ‘Beanie Babies Go to Jail’ would be more appropriate. I don’t want to spoil it for you because I was blown away.”

‘The Dark Side of the ’90s’ finds darkness in unexpected places 

McGrath added that the “Go Bust” episode is a perfect example of what Dark Side of the ’90s does. Subsequent episodes on Baywatch, the Internet 1.0 and grunge music will also uncover unexpected darkness.

Dark Side of the '90s
The Dark Side of the ’90s | Vice

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“I think that’s what makes the Dark Side of the ‘90s series so great,” McGrath said. “Beyond the surface of what you know, there’s a darkness that it’s willing to go and unturn and see what is lurking in the shadows of these subjects, of the Beanie Babies, of Baywatch, of The Viper Room that maybe necessarily other shows in the past haven’t touched on. This’ll be the final document on these episodes because you couldn’t do them any better.