In politics, the voters will hold the people they voted for accountable to their promises. Any kind of broken promises will be detrimental to the elected officials' careers.
While the closest episode of "The Brady Bunch" involving politics would be "Vote for Brady" from season 1, which dealt moreso with partisan politics, then Jan would have to learn the repercussions of making promises she can't keep when she became "Miss Popularity".
It all begins, when she has entered the "Most Popular Girl in Class" competition, a homecoming royalty contest of sorts. Realizing she is in for a tough campaign against classmate and fellow nominee Kathy Williams, she makes an off-the-cuff promise to each of her siblings that she will repay them by doing anything they want her to do. While her entire family helps pitch in and campaign for Jan, she begins making all sorts of promises to her classmates. These include her classmate Herman, who is in desperate need of a tutor as he is failing algebra; Jan, wanting Herman's vote, hastily says that Greg will help out. Jan also promises her friend, Shirley, that she will babysit her little brother at any time.
The campaign promises work, and Jan easily wins the contest, and Senior Night looks like what should be a memorable time for Jan and Billy Garst, the kid who won the boys' part of the "Most Popular In Class" competition. That's even though Mike and Carol — who are desperately trying to book a vacation getaway for their (unannounced) fifth anniversary — have managed to book a hotel room at a local dude ranch.
Then, things begin to unravel for Jan.
Jan comes home, excited that she had been announced as the winner and spreads the news to the others, including Greg ... who is on the phone trying to (politely) explain why he doesn't have time to tutor Herman. Greg isn't exactly in a congratulatory mood; in fact, he says he is upset that he was not consulted beforehand and that Herman is upset. When Jan tries to blow it off as just a campaign promise and that Herman will find someone else to help him, Greg reminds her that she made a promise and now it's time for her to deliver. Jan then says "it was just a campaign promise. The election's over and I won, that's the important thing."
The next day at school, word gets around quickly that Jan had no intention of delivering on her promises. Herman finds Jan and gives him a piece of her mind; when she tries to blame Greg, Herman doesn't buy it and declares that he and a lot of the other kids wished they could buy their votes back. Jan, still with a swelled ego and unable to see that it is her own attitude that got her into this mess, then begins backing out of her commitments to her own siblings, angering them to the point where they won't speak to her or call her "creep" and — as Peter calls her when he one-ups Marcia, much to her delight — "super creep."
Eventually, Peter, who had tried his best earlier to sympathize with Jan and defend her, has enough when the girl he asked out — Kathy Williams, the runner-up — dumped him because she didn't want to be seen "with the brother of a jerky sister." Jan still tries to defend herself, but when she is told that Kathy's replacement date is Billy Garst and that it breaks tradition of the most popular boy and girl going to the dance together ... she still doesn't quite get it. "Congratulations," says Marcia. "You've given the word 'popular' a new meaning."
She doesn't get much sympathy from her parents, to whom she had earlier read a draft copy of her acceptance speech which heaps praise upon herself and gives very little to nothing in the way of gratitude or humility. "I thought that winning would be the greatest, but now everybody has suddenly changed," says Jan. Mike suggests that maybe it was her instead who had actually changed — that she promised everything to get elected but failed to deliver. In a final attempt to save face, Jan decides she's not going to the Senior Night ... disgusting Mike and Carol, because they've had so much trouble booking a vacation, had to cancel because their vacation date fell on the night of Senior Night ... and now Jan is refusing to attend.
Dinner that night is a very quiet affair, everyone disgusted with Jan to the point they can't wait to be excused and get away from her as much as humanly possible. Jan somehow gets everyone to stay, having decided to go to Senior Night after all. But now, she's had a chance to reflect on Mike and Carol's words about humility and making promises, reads a different speech where she admits that she had learned many lessons and that she will do what it takes to make good on her promises. Peter is impressed enough that he agrees to take Jan to the dance.
And finally, Mike and Carol announce, that they will have their weekend getaway at all.
Which they do ... when the morning after the Senior Night, Alice brings them the breakfast in bed, and hangs a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on their door.
Happy fifth anniversary, Mike and Carol!
Tropes present in this episode:
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Jan becomes this after winning the "Most Popular Girl in Class" competition.
- Alpha Bitch: What Jan becomes after winning the "Most Popular Girl in Class" competition. She'll find that being an Alpha Bitch is setting yourself up for a huge fall, once word of her conceited attitude and belief she didn't have to uphold her earlier promises gets around school — and it does quickly.
- Girlish Pigtails: Cindy's pigtails are no more. Starting with this episode, she lets down her hair, which extends well below the shoulders. Likely done at Susan Olsen's insistence.
- Lonely at the Top: Once Jan's friends become disgusted with her and one by one break off their friendship. "Congratulations. You just gave 'popular' a new meaning," says Marcia when trying to point out to Jan what her broken promises are costing her.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: How Jan's intended, ego-centric acceptance speech goes, mentioning everyone she can possibly think of. Eventually, Jan's more humble speech starts, "Dear friends ."
- Out of Order: In the episode, Marcia offers to drive Jan around for campaigning, albeit she wouldn't get her license for another two episodes. Most likely that episode was ahead of it in production order.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Jan's turn to learn this lesson ... and to think she had a big name just by winning a "Most Popular Girl in Class" election.
- Vacation Episode: Most of the episode's subplot has Mike and Carol trying to book a vacation, but finding no success — the hotels everywhere are booked solid. At one point, an exasperated Mike jokingly takes the phone receiver and says, "Hello, Dude Ranch?"