The Year of the Meltdown

A look back at the epic fails of 2011, from nuclear power plants to Charlie Sheen

Illustration by Tomasz Walenta for TIME

Joel Stein

It's not that we thought things were fine. It's just that this year there were no fixes to the messes we made--no underwater oil-well caps, no AIG bailouts, no reuniting the island castaways in a church and sending them to heaven. We had to idly watch things completely fall apart, making us feel so pathetic that planking seemed like a cool thing to do. This was the year of the meltdown. It was a year in which everything seemed to be going according to plan, and then Pippa Middleton turned around and there was no way to get people to pay...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!