20 Best TV Characters of 2016

From bat-wielding bad guys to hipster-stoner sidekicks, these were the small-screen heroes and villains that made our year

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Maria Bamford, 'Lady Dynamite'

Maria Bamford, 'Lady Dynamite'

These days, TV is lousy with shows about industry types trying to navigate the pitfalls of showbiz. But none matched either the frenzied glee or the naked vulnerability of Lady Dynamite's semiautobiographical lead character. In toggling back and forth between Maria Bamford's stand-up comic (named, of course, "Maria Bamford") dealing with insufferable Hollywood types and her time in a Minnesota psych ward recovering from a mental breakdown, the show draws a bright line between the moments when we're frantically pretending to be okay ... and the moments when we admit that we're clearly not. The weird specificity of her plight — and the bright smile Bamford draws across her character's tragedy mask — only makes her more relatable. JS

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