"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
Along with "Ooh, my nose!" and the Humphrey Bogart-accented "Porkchops (pause) and applesauce," a number of Catchphrases from The Brady Bunch have entered the pop culture mainstream. Even though they are uttered only within their respective episodes, and in this case, only once, they have become synonymous with their characters and the series proper.
Jan was the one who uttered the immortal line, and it came after yet another teacher at school played up Marcia's contributions and talents, boasting what a great student she was and that her contributions are unlikely to ever be topped by Jan, let alone anyone because Marcia was so great. So much so that Jan feels she's living in ... "Her Sister's Shadow."
After another day of hearing her teachers play up the "What Would Marcia Do" card, Jan comes home in tears. She storms into her room and sees a shelf full of Marcia's plaques, trophies and other awards. In a fit of rage, Jan throws them into the closet and fumes. Marcia comes home, sees an empty shelf and asks Jan what she knows. Jan shouts at Marcia and tells her she's had enough of her, leading to a huge argument and near fisticuffs.
Carol and Alice intervene before the two sisters can get into a real catfight and ask for an explanation. Before Marcia can speak, Jan vents her frustrations to her mother. "All I hear is Marcia this, Marcia that..." And then, the immortal line: "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
Carol gets Jan calmed down and suggests that, instead of trying to surpass Marcia's own talents, she might make better use of her time trying to create her own identity. So Jan does just that, and thanks to her tendency to try too hard is a miserable failure. At about that same time, she decides to enter a school-sponsored contest for the local American Legion, wherein she has to write an essay titled, "What America Means to Me."
Jan writes an outstanding essay, and in fact wins an honor award for an essay she wrote. She gloats in her own accomplishment and snickers as she reads off to herself the tally of points for the essay ... but then, she is downcast. The numbers didn't add up, and in fact, the correct score ... places her second.
What to do? She so wants to take the honor award, show it to Marcia and tell her, "In your face!" But can she do that honestly? She considers keeping secret her discovery as she struggles with her conscience.
Finally, during a school assembly where the award will be announced and presented, Jan finally breaks. She has no choice but to tell her teacher ... and does just that. The teacher is stunned and announces that Jan did not win the contest after all and another student did. But, the teacher points out, Jan did the right thing by pointing out a mistake and being gracious and mature about coming in second. Moral: Sometimes, second place and integrity has its own rewards that are far richer than those associated with first place.
The entire family particularly, Marcia lauds Jan for her show of character, and she is touched. All celebrate ... except for little Cindy, who now has to live up to Jan's accomplishments. Here We Go Again!.
Tropes present in this episode:
- Always Second Best: The driver of the plot ... Jan always thought of as second best by her teachers.
- Designated Girl Fight: As close as it got to anyone getting into a knock-down, drag out fight.
- I Just Want to Be Special: All Jan wants is to accomplish one thing her sister hasn't. Just one.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Thanks to Jan's teachers, fueling her envy and jealousy over Marcia.
- Tropes related to the episode's most famous saying, "Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!"
- Here We Go Again!: When, at the end of the episode Jan finally wins praise and recognition for something she did on her own merits, Cindy cries out loud, "All I hear now is 'Jan, Jan, Jan'!"
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Those with only passing awareness of The Brady Bunch will certainly know Jan's famous cry of frustration moreso than what the episode was about (her trying to forge her own path and not try to compete with her older sister, with whom she's constantly being compared). So much so that virtually every Brady parody and reference and even The Brady Bunch Movie itself has taken the quote out of its original context and uttered far more often than the single time it was said in the episode.
- Signature Line: Think of something memorable Jan might say ... just think for a minute ... (whistles) ... .
- What Would X Do?: Virtually how Jan's teachers regard Marcia, to the point where she is indispensable.