There are lots of Big Brother lists out there and every season I am asked to rank the top players of all time. For the last few years my answer has been that I had several players that I call my top players – but I do not rank any one above the other. Here is my top five players of all time – all should be considered ‘equal’ there is NO #1, #2, etc – listed by chronological order of when they first played Big Brother.
Will Kirby (Seasons 2, 7)
First Season Notes: 12 HGs in BB2, Jury NOT sequestered, no POV (didn’t exist), Nominated 4 times, won 5-2 vs Nicole (each was allowed to nullify a vote).
Since it was the first season of the format where they voted each other out, no one had a ‘style’ to model his/her game after. Will’s style ended up being the best by far with as he did a bit of a Survivor Richard Hatch move and implied no one would vote for him in the end and when he ended up reaching the end, turned the tables and said that was the reason everyone should vote for him (also commenting “I hate you all”). His arrogance and charm and perfectly symmetrical face won over the jury and America. Will never won a competition, was generally disliked by the live feed viewers until his showmance (Shannon) was evicted and he had distanced himself (mostly by eviction) from the negativity of “Chill Town” – the group of House Guests including Justin Sebik, Shannon Dragoo and Mike “Boogie” that had the negative image the first few weeks.
Second Season Notes: Nominated twice, claimed his mission was to help Mike win the season. A ‘flirtmance’ with Janelle Pierzina and rumored pre-show side deal/alliance with Mike, Erika Landin and others may have helped him get farther than he would have otherwise.
Danielle Reyes (Seasons 3,7)
First Season Notes: 12 HGs in BB3, jury NOT sequestered, POV introduced, only nominated once (technical nomination at final 3), HoH once, POV winner once, lost 9-1 to Lisa Donahue.
Danielle’s biggest move on the season was her secret alliance with Jason, so well hidden that even the live feed viewers didn’t know about it until Julie Chen revealed it on the TV show. The two kept their conversations limited to an area not normally seen on the live feeds where they would play cards as a cover. She also had entertaining Diary Room sessions where she would often mock her fellow houseguests. Danielle is the only person in my top five list not to have won Big Brother. I (and many others) believe she lost because the evicted HGs were not sequestered while they were waiting for the season to end and thus saw everything the viewers would see including the Diary Room sessions noted above. After Big Brother 3 the Jury has always been sequestered and not allowed to watch Diary Room sessions or other private conversations.
Second Season Notes: Danielle never really had much of a chance in the All Star season as her previous tactic of deception and sneakiness couldn’t really be used again. She placed 6th that year while winning one Hoh, one POV and being nominated three times.
With my personal rule that to be in the top you need to have won BB, this is the one exception, and I maintain that if Danielle’s Diary Room sessions had not been exposed to the Jury, she would have easily won this season.
“Evel” Dick Donato (Seasons 8,13)
First Season Notes: 14 HGs in BB8, HoH 3 times, nominated 3 times, POV winner 1 time, beat daughter Danielle Donato 5-2. Week six used POV on Danielle instead of himself when he was also nominated.
Dick was rude, crude, obnoxious and loud. Many will argue that he would not have made it past week six were it not for the “twist” where “America” made Eric Stein vote for Dustin Erikstrup to be evicted instead of Dick (Dustin was evicted 4-2). Dick had blow-ups with many house guests including Jen Johnson who destroyed Dick’s cigarettes (Dick meanwhile had earlier dumped iced tea over Jen’s head). Somehow through all of that and many other moments, Dick still managed to get to the final three which many will remember started with an endurance HoH competition that Dick lost to Zach Swerdzewski after seven and a half hours standing on a pedestal while being sprayed with water and holding on to a key (he later won Part 2 and 3 and evicted Zach). His strained relationship with daughter Danielle and time spent late at night talking to those watching on the live feeds endeared him to many. Much like Will in BB2, there was a bit of an attitude in the house that Dick could be voted out easily, however it proved to be harder than expected.
Second Season Notes: Dicks second stint on Big Brother was short lived, he left for personal reasons before the live feeds had even begun. Dick also recently tweeted that he would never be on Big Brother again. Update: Dick has revealed that he left this season after conflicting blood tests he took before the season showed he might have HIV - he has since been formely diagnosed with HIV and is on medication.
Dan Gheesling (Seasons 10,14)
First Season Notes: 13 HGs in BB10, HoH 3 times, nominated 2 times, POV winner 2 times, won against Memphis Garrett 7-0.
Dan’s winning season honestly was not that spectacular. He managed to manipulate some folks but it was his personality and ‘charm’ that won him over with America. He was “America’s player” and competed a few tasks to win extra money – one task involved getting hugs from the other HGs and he often gave a nod & wink at the camera when getting the hugs. His alliance with Memphis ultimately got him to then end when Memphis saved him from the nomination block on week 8. Dan’s 7-0 victory is the only unanimous victory in the show’s history.
Second Season Notes: HoH once, nominated 3 times, POV won once, lost to Ian Terry 6-1. Actually unlike all the other members of this list, Dan broke in to my ‘top’ list with his performance on Big Brother 14. While having an advantage of being an alumnus and thus the subject of some “hero worship,” Dan still managed to manipulate the other HGs, especially Danielle Murphree. His now infamous “Funeral” will remain one of the best known moments in Big Brother, yet he still lost 6-1 to Ian showing that the “manipulation” style of game seems to only works once for any given HG in Big Brother.
Derrick Levasseur (Season 16)
Season Notes: 16 HGs in BB16, only nominated once (technical nomination at final 3), HoH 2 twice (3 if pre-BoB HoH’s included), no POV wins, won 7-2 vs Cody Calafiore.
The newest addition to my list, Derrick used manipulation as well as or better than any other previous houseguest to keep himself safe and get others in his various alliances to do what he wanted while they would end up thinking it was their own idea. His game was one of many many small moves, not big bold ones. Even when something went wrong with what seemed to be his plan, he was able to adjust and move forward. He worked very hard to keep the drama low in the house which led to a somewhat ‘dull’ season. It also helped him that Donny Thompson, his biggest adversary early on, was in “Team America” with him along with another strong social player Frankie Grande. While we will never know how his game might have been changed without Team America, it’s likely he still would have done very well. It says a lot for his game that even though he lost Part 3 of the final HoH competition and his fate rested with fellow “Hitman” Cody, he still made it to the final two when Cody picked him.
Honorable Mention – these folks are the ‘almost but not quite’ in my list. If any came back and managed to win either for the first time or again – I’d might have to move them up.
Janelle Pierzina – Three Big Brother season appearances (6,7, and 14) hard to not put here in the list but she never even made the final two (final three twice). She was a great competitor and a fan favorite. She was the victim of an unlucky break in Big Brother 7 when she was eliminated from the final HoH endurance competition on a technicality that I still think was a mistake by Julie Chen. However she had the chance to win Part II and lost that to eventual winner Mike Boogie and thus never had a chance to win BB7.
Mike “Boogie” Malin – Another houseguest with three seasons (2,7, and14) I personally wasn’t extremely impressed with Mike’s ‘game’ but others feel he deserves to be considered a top player. Mike had Will on both season’s 2 & 7 to help him out and on season 14 he was a ‘coach’ for the first few weeks and had an advantage in just being a well-known player and having the advantage of “hero worship” by some of the rookie houseguests.
Ian Terry – very good player that won the game in Season 14. Was carried along by others in the early part of his season. Would have to come back and have a stellar second season like Dan did in order to make my top player list.
Rachel Reilly – I have to admit my bias here. I was never a fan of Rachel in the house. I didn’t like her personality while playing so she would really have to do something special to turn me around. I have always felt that production had a very heavy hand with Season 13 & this helped Rachel tremendously. The “Hero Worship” factor again played a role in Season 13 as six of the 14 houseguests were very well known alumni.
Nowhere near the top - even though some want them to be, these people didn’t show me enough in their season(s) to warrant being in my list. Many are just fan favorites, not top tier players.
Jeff & Jordan – They didn’t do anything that spectacular – “America” just loves them. I do think production wanted Jeff to win Season 11 (saved via the Coup d'etat) but when he went out 6th Jordan, whom Jeff had been carrying along in the game, became the new favorite to win. When both returned in BB13 they went out 7th (after the infamous "clown shoes" incident) and 4th. Nice folks, but not great BB players. Getting engaged in the back yard doesn't move them up my list either ;)
Kaysar Ridha – Another fan favorite that was so well like I think production changed the game in Big Brother 6 to get him back in the house. He promptly was voted right back out after letting Jennifer Vasquez win HoH after a 14 hour competition (longest in BB history). Came back for BB7 and still did nothing (but seems like a nice guy!).
Hayden Moss – His alliance got him to the end, it was a total team effort (I thought Lane should have won that season).
I could go on and on….. but I won’t. Sorry if I missed your favorite!
Other thoughts when compiling lists: Lists are always interesting, I know there will be many that will disagree with me and that’s ok. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s VERY hard to compare HGs across seasons. Every season has its own dynamics and advantages, disadvantages. As we discussed on our last Big Brother Gossip Show for BB16, Derrick would have had a much tougher go of it in the BB15 house with the likes of Amanda, Andy and Hellen whom all might have seen through Derricks game a bit more than those in the BB16 house. What was a great game in one season might not be even a good one in another. I don’t think any of my top five will ever be able to win another season of Big Brother for that very reason.