“Big Brother” returns to CBS on June 28 for a brand new summer of twists and turns (make your predictions now), so now is the perfect time to look back at the female houseguests who played the best games of all time. Of our six faves listed below, only two went on to win their season, proving that in our eyes you don’t have to claim victory in order to be the “best.” In our photo gallery above we detail the Top 12 players ever (men and women), but below are our thoughts just on the savviest girls from the long-running reality TV show.
Danielle Reyes (Runner-Up Season 3 & 6th place Season 7) — Season 3 is one of the most iconic and influential seasons of “Big Brother” due in large part to Danielle’s presence and dominance in the game. Though she didn’t win an HOH comp until the final four at week 10 and was never nominated for eviction, Danielle masterminded a lot of the strategic play alongside her secret ally Jason Guy (3rd place), but lost to Lisa Donahue in the finals when the jury soured to her after being able to watch the season unfold after their own evictions — this controversy led to the show sequestering jury members so that their votes would be less influenced by the part of the game they weren’t included in. Danielle later competed on the All Stars edition, finishing 6th.
Jun Song (Winner Season 4) — Season 4 of the show was dubbed “The X-Factor” and included a twist where five of the first eight houseguests to enter the house were later surprised with one of their exes joining the game. Jun was joined by her ex Jee Choe and the two of them put their differences aside to work together for most of the summer, an alliance that helped get them both to the final five with Jun continuing on to win in a 6-1 final vote. Since her win Jun hasn’t played again, but she has become one of the leading voices online of “Big Brother” strategy and discourse, solidifying her place among the reality TV greats.
Nakomis Dedmon (4th place Season 5 & 13th Season 7) — The “backdoor” move, now common in “Big Brother” strategy, was first envisioned by Nakomis on Season 5 as the “six-finger plan.” In theory, backdooring someone is the fool-proof process by which an HOH nominates two pawns, both in on the plan, who agree to help choose three other players, also in on the plan, to compete in the Veto competition. Regardless of which of the six players wins they can remove one of the pawns and nominate the HOH’s actual target in their place, preventing that target from having a chance to save themselves from eviction. Nakomis’ strategic instincts that helped her create the backdoor move is exactly why she failed to make it very far in her second series appearance on All Stars.
Janelle Pierzina (3rd place Season 6, 3rd place Season 7 & 12th place Season 14) — Janelle is probably one of if not the most popular player in “Big Brother” history. She played as an underdog with her back against the wall for most of her first season—she followed-up three nominations in the first six weeks with two HOH and two Veto wins before falling just shy of reaching the finals. When she returned the following summer she turned it all up a notch, winning HOH four times and a dominating with five Veto comp wins. When she came back for a third summer on Season 14, her reputation as a challenge beast was too threatening to let her get a foot in the game.
Britney Haynes (4th place Season 12 & 8th place Season 14) — Most legendary houseguests can claim challenge wins or strategic masterminding as their mark on the series, but few can say that they’re one of the best social players in the house. Britney is without a doubt one of the best at the social game. That isn’t to say that Britney doesn’t bring other stuff to the table — in fact, in her first season she won three of the first five Veto comps and a week 7 HOH. But it was her ability to weasel her way into a dominant all-male alliance that helped secure her enough safety to make it to the final four.
Rachel Reilly (9th place Season 12 & Winner Season 13) — One of the most iconic phrases in “Big Brother” history is Rachel’s “Floaters, you better grab a life vest!” and is indicative of the type of competitive player Rachel was. In her first season, Rachel was nominated the first week, escaped elimination and went on to win two HOH comps by week 4 before being eliminated in week 5 as a major threat. When she played again the following season, despite her reputation preceding her she again managed to play aggressively, winning two of the first three HOH comps, escaping eviction three times and then winning in a 4-3 vote.
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win bragging rights and a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Big Brother” in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.