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Monday, September 2, 2019

The Top Five Big Brother Players of All Time

This is an updated list, my original list from 2014 located here and slightly modified from the list in 2017 located here.  I don't see anyone being added to my top player or honorable mention list for this season so here is an update through Big Brother 21.

There are a lot 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 are my top five players of all time, some others who didn't quite make it and a few more that never will.  In the top five all should be considered ‘equal’ there is NO #1, #2, etc and they are 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 Head of Households (HoH), no Power of Vetos (POV didn’t exist), Nominated 4 times, won 5-2 vs Nicole Nilson (each was allowed to nullify a vote).

Since it was the first season of the format where the House Guests (HGs) 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 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 Dragoo, was evicted and he had distanced himself (mostly by eviction) from the “Chill Town” alliance – the group of House Guests including Justin Sebik, Shannon 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 Guy, 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 of the house not normally seen on the live feeds where they would play cards as a cover.  She also had entertaining Diary Room (DR) sessions where she would often mock her fellow house guests.  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 a season of Big Brother, 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 Big Brother 3.

“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 Parts 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 Kirby 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 formally 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 in my opinion.  He did manage to manipulate some folks, but I think with his personality and ‘charm’ he managed to manipulate and win over America.  He was “America’s Player” and competed a few tasks to win extra money.  One such 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 Garrett ultimately got him to the end when Memphis saved him from the nomination block on week 8.  Dan’s 7-0 Jury vote win 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 was able 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-Battle of Block aka 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 house guest 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 over Victoria Rafaeli.

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 might have to move them up.  Note - there is a chance a BB21 name may end up here - we'll see how the season shakes out.

Janelle Pierzina – With three Big Brother season appearances (6,7, and 14), its hard to not put her 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 opportunity to win Part 2 and lost that to eventual BB7 winner Mike Boogie.

Mike “Boogie” Malin – Another house guest with three seasons (2,7, and 14), I personally wasn’t extremely impressed with Mike’s ‘game’ but others feel he deserves to be considered a top player.  Mike had Will Kirby on both season’s 2 and 7 to help him out and on season 14 he was a ‘coach’ for the first few weeks which gave him the advantage of  the “hero worship” effect seen when alum return by some of the rookie house guests.

Ian Terry – A very good player that won the game in Season 14.  In my opinion Ian was carried along by others in the early part of his season, especially by Mike Boogie.  Ian would have to come back and have a stellar second season like Dan did in order to make my top player list.

Rachel Reilly – (BB12 & 13) 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 and that this helped Rachel tremendously.  The “Hero Worship” factor again played a role in Season 13 as six of the 14 house guests were very well known alumni.

Vanessa Roussa – Totally would have made my "Top Player" list had she won season 17.  Alas she couldn't beat eventual winner Steve Moses in the final HoH competition and so placed 3rd.  Her mind never seems to shut down and her paranoia and manipulation was frantic compared to BB16 Derrick - she just needed that final win.

Paul Abrahamian – Placed second on season 18 and again on season 19.  While many felt Paul should have won season 18 over Nicole, he didn't. On season 19 I feel the immunity he got when he entered, the secret 3 weeks of immunity 'given' to him by production (via a guaranteed vote by fans), the 8 'friendship' (immunity) bracelets, and the built in hero worship of one returning veteran was a tremendous advantage.  Paul even admitted on the feeds early on that he had a HUGE advantage being a veteran in the house. It also turned out Paul's lies got the best of him with the season 19 jury.

Tyler Crispen – Almost won it all but ended up losing to his "Ride or Die" Kaycee Clark on season 21.  He really seemed to have everything lined up and I think its fair to say that he lost in part to a 'bitter jury' but thats part of Big Brother now and you need to be able to manage that.  He might have beaten JC but he needed that final win to have the chance to pick him over Kaycee - though he claimed he wouldn't have done it.

Nowhere near the top - even though some want them to be, these former house guests 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 Schroeder to win Season 11 (saved via the Coup d'etat) but when he went out 6th Jordan Lloyd, whom Jeff had been carrying along in the game, became the new favorite to win.  When both returned in BB13, Jeff went out 7th after the infamous "clown shoes" incident, and Jordan followed in 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 after he was evicted.  He promptly was voted right back out after letting Jennifer Vasquez win HoH following a 14 hour endurance HoH competition (longest in BB history). Came back for BB7 and still did nothing (but seems like a nice guy!).

Hayden Moss – Winner of Big Brother 12.  Simply put, his alliance (The Brigade) got him to the end, it was a total team effort and I thought Lane Elenburg should have won that season.

Nicole Franzel – I just can't.  She's here on my list because she actually won season 18 (a season Paul Abrahamian probably should have won) when she came back after finishing 7th on season 16.  I got nothing people, she whined her way through both seasons and had showmances in each season as well.  Not my kind of player.

I could go on and on….. but I won’t.  Sorry if I missed your favorite!

My rant on "Vets" playing:  I do not like the mixture of alumni playing with new house guests.  We discovered that in all but one season, when one or more veterans were in the house, at least one of them placed in the top 2 (seasons 13,14,18,19).  The one exception being Jesse Godderz on season 11 who was the first alum ever to return and was eliminated by the "Coup d'etat" which many of us feel was introduced to keep fan favorite Jeff Schroeder from going home.  Veteran players have the advantage of experience in the Big Brother house, knowledge of the production staff which also would make them more comfortable, and a the 'hero worship' effect with the new house guests who likely have seen the veterans on many many episodes of Big Brother while locked up in the pre-show sequester.

Finally, 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 Zuckerman, Andy Herren and Helen Kim whom all might have seen through his 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.  Its for that very reason I don’t think any of my top five will ever be able to win another season of Big Brother.

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