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The Most Important TV Moments of 2016 (So Far)

The year's best moments did more than simply entertain

Spoiler warning for, well, everything on TV in 2016 (so far) past this point.

This year, the most important moments on TV weren't just entertaining, but dove head first into sensitive societal issues producers and writers rightfully believed we, the viewers, shouldn't ignore. Through unforgettable characters and stellar writing, we saw the effects of hot-button issues such as sexism, police brutality, mental illness, LGBT equality, racism, gun control and women's health play out in ways we won't soon forget.

10. Daenerys Burns the Patriarchy, Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones Courtesy of HBO

If you had to sum up the theme of Game of Thrones' latest season in one word, that word would be: Matriarchy. While sending the Dothraki khals to a fiery death wasn't the first time that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has proven she isn't to be underestimated or tamed, it was the beginning of a female takeover of the show. Daenerys is here to rule, not serve. The same goes for Cersei (Lena Headey) and Sansa (Sophie Turner); and when they are done, don't be surprised if the rest of Westeros' patriarchal system is also in ashes. -- Megan Vick

9. Annalise's Baby is Stillborn, How to Get Away With Murder

Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder ABC

That Annalise (Viola Davis) lost her baby 10 years ago was not a surprise since, you know, she doesn't have a kid now. But how it all unfolded will shatter your heart in a million pieces. After getting T-boned, she delivers a stillborn in an gut-wrenching sequence that sees her and her husband Sam (Tom Verica) take a photo with their dead son as a keepsake, before she violently shoves Sam Jr. away. Never before has Annalise looked so vulnerable, so raw -- exquisitely played by Davis -- as she vocalizes to Wes (Alfred Enoch) in the present the guilt she's been carrying all these years: Her ambition destroyed, as well as his and her families. The reveal adds new depth to our mess of a heroine, but its unvarnished portrait of unspeakable loss serves as a reminder that grief ineffable and unyielding. -- Joyce Eng

8. UnREALIntroduces a Black Suitor

Shiri Appleby, B.J. Britt and Constance Zimmer, UnREAL Bettina Strauss

UnRealmade a bold statement in its second season by making the suitor on its fictionalBachelor-esque dating show Everlasting a person of color... A move that ABC hasn't been daring enough to make in over 20 seasons of the show UnReal's show-within-a-show is ostensibly based on. With its black suitor Darius, (B.J. Britt), UnReal dramatizes the very real network politics, casting prejudices and latent racial fears that answer exactly why contestants of color never make it past a few episodes on broadcast dating shows. Is middle America ready to see a black Bachelor? Are they ready to see him potentially fall in love with a white all-American girl? We don't know, but UnReal is making a very strong case that it'd be incredible to find out. -- Megan Vick

7. Lily Begs for Her Memories, Penny Dreadful

Harry Treadaway and Billie Piper, Penny Dreadful Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

There were a number of standout moments in Penny Dreadful's surprise final season, but nothing was as excruciatingly emotional as Lily's (Billie Piper) monologue to her former lover -- and current captor -- Victor (Harry Treadaway), begging him not to take the memory of her dead child. Lily's story of having to balance a job (who cares if that job is "lady of the night") with caring for a child -- and the horrifying reality of what could happen -- is far more applicable to working parents worldwide than you'd expect from a horror fantasy show; but Piper crushed the monologue, and our hearts. -- Alexander Zalben

6. "The Villain in My Own Story," Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Scott Everett White/The CW

People love talking about "unlikable female characters," but Crazy Ex-Girlfriendtook this idea a step further by revealing that Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) is actually the villain, 14 episodes into the show's first season. After having spent all her time and energy attempting to steal Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) from Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz), it finally dawned on Rebecca how selfish she's been. Rebecca then launches into a Disney villain-like song that's one of the most nuanced -- and yes, silly -- explorations of how different your perception of yourself may be, versus how others perceive you. -- Sadie Gennis

5. Lexa's Death, The 100

Alycia Debnam-Carey and Neil Sandilands, The 100 Liane Hentscher, THE CW

Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) may not have been the main character on The CW's post-apocalyptic drama, but she was critically important to a portion of the population who watched the show: a strong, proudly LGBT character whose sexuality was only a part of who she was -- a rarity on TV. Unfortunately, Lexa fell prey to the aptly named "Kill Your Gays" trope when she was shot right after finally sleeping with her long time star crossed love, Clarke (Eliza Taylor). The fanbase reacted, and it sparked a year-long discussion about how, and why, this trope must change. -- AZ

4. Andre Explains Police Brutality, black-ish

Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Marsai Martin, black-ish ABC/Patrick Wymore

Black-ishcreator Kenya Barris approached the subject of police brutality when it mattered most with caution and concern, showing that all perspectives matter, whatever the color of your skin. But his closing statement was the one that mattered most: fixing this problem for the sake of our future should be everyone's goal. -- Tim Surette

3. Marcia Clark's Breakdown, People v O.J. Simpson

Sarah Paulson and Sterling K. Brown, American Crime Story

Sarah Paulson's Emmy reel forThe People v. O.J. Simpsonshould begin and end with Episode 6, in which Marcia Clark confidently strolls into the courtroom with a new haircut, only to be admonished for her new look by everyone in sight, including the opposing lawyers and the judge. Watching Paulson's face crumple as Clark tries to maintain her composure is as difficult to stomach as some of the tactics the defense team used to get Simpson acquitted. It's in this scene, coupled with Clark's humiliating admission that the trial is impairing her ability to care for her children, that the miniseries elevated itself from a true crime docudrama to a poignant piece of art seeking to convey a powerful message. -- Liz Raftery

2. Samantha Bee on Gun Control, Full Frontal

Samantha Bee, Full Frontal

The former Daily Showcontributor cemented her status as Jon Stewart's worthy successor with her incendiary rant the day after last month's shooting in Orlando. Where other personalities opted for vague, banal platitudes about loving one another, Samantha Bee had no time for such nonsense. Instead, she opened her show with a furious, well-researched and darkly funny speech urging lawmakers to do their jobs and keep automatic weapons out of the hands of potential terrorists. Ignore her at your own risk. -- Liam Mathews

1. Poussey's Death, Orange is the New Black

Samira Wiley, Orange Is the New Black JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Killing off a beloved TV character is always a bold move, but the reverberations from Poussey's (Samira Wiley) death extend far beyond the world of Orange Is the New Black. At once a game-changing plot twist, as well as a political statement about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Poussey's heartbreaking demise in Episode 12 became not only the most pivotal moment of the season, but perhaps the entire series. And given the events of the past year, and the past few days in particular, these scenes and the discussion they spark are more important than ever. We need to keep this conversation going. -- LR

Check out the rest of The Best of 2016 (So Far):

The Best TV Shows of 2016 (So Far)

The Best TV Cliffhangers of 2016 (So Far)

The Most Important TV Characters of 2016 (So Far)