It's been said that a person's true character is shown when they do the right thing and show integrity when nobody is watching, without the expectation of somebody watching ... or even if they think nobody is watching.
It's also been said that the best way to nip a brewing family feud in the bud is to call attention to it, then address it before it even has a chance to get going and then stop it right away.
Two key events are set in stone as Greg and Marcia vie against each other in a heated campaign for student body president. It's a campaign that will mean their fellow students will have to ... "Vote For Brady."
Greg comes home, excited that he has been nominated for student body president at Filmore Junior High (presumably a sixth- through eighth-grade building). But that is all tempered by the announcement of who is opponent is ... and he doesn't have to look very far to find her: Marcia. "We're running against each other," Marcia a sixth-grader announces.
Mike and Carol decide immediately that they will not take sides and show impartial support for both the eldest Bradys, but that's where the lack of taking sides ends. Greg manages to enlist the support of Peter and Bobby, while Jan and Cindy are loyal to the end to Marcia. Bickering soon begins, and as pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross would say 30 years later on TV, "Business is about to pick up!"
- Round 1: (*ding* *ding* *ding*) Using his dad's tape recorder, Greg records a series of "commercials" to play over the intercom, encouraging his fellow students to vote for him. Simple commercials ... except when he plays the tape back to his friends, all there is is silence. Greg immediately decides Marcia got ahold of the tape recorder and erased the tapes. Meanwhile, Marcia has copiously been taking notes for her campaign speech and leaves them on the family room table to get a snack. When she returns, the notes are missing ... and who would be the only one in her mind, at least to want to spy on her campaign by taking them (or in the very least, just simply dispose of them)? Why, Greg, of course, since he must be afraid of losing to a girl.
The two have an angry confrontation in the family room, and before fists can fly, Mike and Carol intervene and tell them to cool it. After allowing them to explain their side, Mike suggests to Greg that he may have simply made the mistake of forgetting to press record, or possibly even accidentally erasing the tapes himself; Mike admits he's done that himself, and Greg calms down. Meanwhile, Alice admits she threw away the notes, not knowing what they were for. Marcia's upset at first, but then realizes Alice meant no harm.
- Round 2: (*ding* *ding* *ding*) Mike and Carol have the idea of allowing Greg and Marcia to rehearse their campaign speeches before an audience, that audience being their parents and siblings. Only Marcia's speech is heard, and the stone-faced looks on the boys is priceless as they sit there, disgusted and refusing to acknowledge her speech. Marcia begins to cry at the boys' rude refusal to even give polite applause.
The parents have enough of what's already shaped up to be a family feud, and Mike gets up and says that he will tolerate no more. "We are going to be a family, much longer than either Greg or Marcia will be class president," he sternly tells the kids, suggesting that family unity is far more important than who wins a school election, and that they will be a family that gets along and supports each other period. Carol perhaps recognizing the partisan politics were already taking root in the late 1960s suggests that rude behavior might be tolerated and expected on the national or maybe even state scene, but is totally inexcusable and unacceptable at home.
That takes care of the second point. But what about that first point the one about showing character when nobody is watching?
That comes in ...
- Round 3: (*ding* *ding* *ding*) Greg has called his friends over to get the results of a straw poll and plot campaign strategy. When they see that the vote is going to be close, one of the boys Rusty comes up with a great idea ... by spreading a rumor about Marcia. Greg allows Rusty to explain he suggests that Marcia is easy and that she and class creep Felix Brown were seen kissing and necking in the movie theater.
Greg's eyebrows rise ... and then turn sharply downward he doesn't like that idea one bit. In fact, he makes it clear that he does NOT want to have anything to do with that idea. "That's my sister you're talking about!" says a pissed-off Greg. When Rusty explains that he's going to go ahead with the rumor anyway, Greg warns him he had better not or else he'll really regret it ... and then he fires Rusty on the spot, rips the "campaign manager" ribbon from his shirt and tells him to scram.
While all this is going on, Marcia had been leaving the house to go to the library to work on her own campaign. She overhears the whole thing unfold Rusty suggesting the rumor and a furious Greg running him off and outright threatening him if he followed through and realizes something about Greg she didn't know. Yes, Greg is an intensely competitive person, of which there is nothing wrong but his sense of fair play and integrity are by far his bigger virtues. And so is his sense of family unity meaning at least Greg was listening to his father's lecture the other night and willingness to stick up for his siblings (all of them) without hesitation if they're being wronged or even at the thought thereof.
In the end, Marcia withdraws her candidacy on the day of the school assembly and endorses Greg as the Filmore Junior High student body president. It's never stated outright whether she reveals that she had overseen him stick up for her the previous afternoon. That night, the family celebrates Greg's big win ... but Mike and Carol announced that everyone's a winner individually and the family as a whole!
Well, not really. In the tag scene, Cindy happily breaks the news to Carol that she had been elected the crossing guard at her school. (Odd, that a school would make a seven-year old a crossing guard). But not everyone is so happy, as she asks Carol "Guess who I beat out?" just when Bobby comes in crying.
Postlogue: In "A Hat in the Ring", the fourth episode of the 1990 reunion series "The Bradys", when Mike was running for the district councilman, his opponent's campaign manager actually set Mike up with a meeting with the chairman of the "Save the Opera" committee, who offered him a bribe for a vote. Although Mike refused the bribe, the campaign manager took the picture of it just at the moment Mike was holding the money in his hand. Next, he sent Mike a fake newspaper with the picture and threatened to publish the article unless Mike dropped out. When Mike calls his opponent, who finds out about the set-up, he fires his campaign manager.
Tropes present in this episode:
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Greg outright rejects Rusty's suggestion that he engage in splattering Marcia's name through the mud and tells him to get lost.
- Everyone Has Standards: Greg runs a fierce campaign against Marcia, but in no way will he allow rumors to start spreading about her.
- Feud Episode: The siblings, by gender. Which Mike and Carol put a decisive stop to.
- The Gloves Come Off: What Greg's campaign manager proposes late in the episode with his rumor about Marcia being seen with school creep Felix Brown, this coming after he sees that the race is too close to call.
- Here We Go Again!: The tag scene.
- It's Personal: Greg's reaction to his campaign manager bringing up the idea of running a smear campaign, against Marcia.
- Retcon: Partial, concerning Carol's golf game. In this installment, it is explained Carol owned a set of golf clubs and played regularly. In the Season 4 episode "Greg's Triangle" — incidentally, another episode where Greg's integrity would be tested, although in that episode the stakes were ... well, much different — Carol is a hopeless novice who performs so badly she winds up twisting one of Mike's clubs (literally) into a pretzel.
- Student Council President: Greg and Marcia running against each other for this position is the backbone of this episode's plot.