Daria and Jane's painting of a pretty girl with bulimia catches flak from Principal Li and Mr. O'Neill, who don't like the message it sends. Meanwhile, Jake, who's out of a job because of a bad decision, desperately searches for anyone in need of a consultant.
This episode provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: Subverted. While Daria and Jane's parents were too distracted or offered little real help throughout the episode, Helen comes through at the last moment. When Mrs. Li calls, threatening Daria over the poster defacement, Helen lets her have it and threatens to sue the school for violating the girls' civil liberties.
- All Periods Are PMS: After dumping the bowl of pasta on Jake's head, Helen returns to the kitchen and gives a half-assed apology by blaming her reaction to her PMS.
- Dramatically Missing the Point:
- Everyone who criticizes the poster for being dark and depressing doesn't get the message that Jane and Daria are trying to convey. The worst is Mr. O'Neill, who "softens" their wording, swearing to keep their message intact. He ends up completely inverting it and celebrating the very thing they were condemning.
- Subverted with Ms. DeFoe, who was against the poster only because she believed Daria and Jane were making fun of eating disorders; everybody else was complaining about the mention of vomiting, period. And unlike everyone else, when she talks with the girls about the poster's actual meaning, she commends them for it.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Despite trying to cope with losing his client and distracting himself with the house chores, Jake actually supports Daria's poster against Helen, explaining that it wasn't appropriate for the contest, but it was her message. Daria was impressed, while Helen dumped the entire bowl of pasta on his head.Jake: You see, if this poster is supposed to be propaganda promoting student life, it would be very bad. But if it's supposed to be Daria's personal vision of student life, it's very good. See?Daria: Thanks, Dad!
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Both of Brittany's posters have those titles.Brittany: The message is "Don't join a gang", which is also the title.
- Extreme Doormat: Jane and Daria joke about Mr. O'Neill being this.Jane: Can't we talk to Mr. O'Neill?
Daria: We could appeal to him. And he might turn the full force of his overwhelming personality on Ms. Li. And then she eats him.
- Got Volunteered: Ms. Li uses this as an excuse to take Daria and Jane's poster as part of the school's exhibit. Helen calls her out on how this violates their civil liberties.
- I Gave My Word: Mr. O'Neill promised to stop pushing Daria and Jane to enter the contest if they didn't like his modifications to the poster's poem. While he intended to keep his word, Ms. Li overruled him.
- Running Gag: "Brittany, I see the [Alcohol and Drugs/Gang], but not something that indicates 'Don't'"(then Brittany grabs a lipstick and draws a giant "Don't" circle on it)
- Shrine to Self: Upchuck's poster consisted on a self-portrait of himself with A Lady on Each Arm and a sports car. When Ms. Defoe asks him what message was intended, he says it was only a "personal goal".
- Sincerity Mode: Daria means it when she thanks Jake for coming to her defense.
- Terrible Artist: In the first minute of the episode, the art teacher asks Brittany if she spilled the paint on her canvas by accident (she didn't). Then it becomes the Running Gag.
- Troll: Initially, Jane didn't want to participate in the contest, but eventually agreed to humor Ms. Defoe. Then Daria motivates her to actually participate just to mess up with the school by twisting the intention of the contest into more pessimistic messages.
- True Art Is Angsty: In-Universe. Daria and Jane put together a poignant message to enter in a fluffy contest with little substance. All anyone can talk about is how dark and depressing it is.
- You Do NOT Want To Know: Just as Jodie started to figure out why Daria and Jane attended the expo after what Ms. Li did to them, both told her to get lost so she won't get involved in their plan.