1. True Blood

Network: HBO
Stars: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Kristin Bauer, Deborah Ann Woll, Chris Bauer, Jim Parrack, Todd Lowe, Carrie Preston, Marshall Allman, Kevin Alejandro, Joe Manganiello

How bad was True Blood’s scatterbrained fourth season? Those damn were-panthers weren’t even the biggest issue. The kinky, gory HBO series has always been top-heavy with characters, and in past seasons creator Alan Ball and his cohorts managed to divvy out screen time well enough to make True Blood that rare ensemble show that features several “fan favorites.” This year, however, an abundance of frustrating, idiotic, and unappealing arcs changed all that—for the absolute worst.

The first fuck-up came when Alexander Skarsgård’s Eric Northman turned into a butter-soft chump, the result of his memory being erased by Bon Temps’ new witch, Marnie (Fiona Shaw), and a romance-novel-bad sex affair with Sookie (Anna Paquin). Almost as bad as sissy Eric were the decisions to have Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) get possessed by an old baby-wanting spirit, dedicating more than five seconds’ worth of an episode’s duration to Alcide’s (Joe Manganiello) dull interactions with a werewolf biker gang, and littering action sequences with awful CGI (the season’s opening sequence in fairy land was the year’s cheesiest moment) and ridiculous clichés (vampires walking in slow-motion with automatic weapons).

If not for the genuine chemistry between Deborah Ann Woll (as sexy redhead vamp Jessica) and Ryan Kwanten (dim-witted playboy Jason), as well as Fiona Shaw’s strong, though underused, acting, True Blood’s 2011 run would’ve been an epic fail. As it stands, a show we used to love has devolved into one we’re cautiously optimistic about, moving forward. Yes, it’s dangerously close to becoming the new Dexter.