When their couples therapist moves away and Anna and Ben are left alone with their ongoing problems, they turn to an unconventional solution: turning all their fights into songs. In the 2017 dramedy Band Aid, Zoe Lister-Jones employs an all-women production team to flip romantic comedy tropes on their heads. Lister-Jones – who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film – plays Anna, an Uber driver lamenting a failed book deal and the personal and professional successes of her friends. Her husband Ben (Adam Pally) has abandoned his artistic ideals for low-paying graphic design jobs he can do in his underwear. Rather than separate, they enlist their eccentric neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen) to play drums as they transform their arguments into pithy musical numbers.
While the songs showcase Lister-Jones’ humor, they hint at deeper issues. Ben croons about his wife’s insecurities about her looks, “You want me to lie, lie, lie”, while Anna retorts, “I want to eat pie, pie, pie”. The songs ultimately become a vehicle for Lister-Jones to have an honest conversation about infertility, and how it can unearth deep-seeded anxieties: Anna admits that her miscarriage made her feel like she “failed as a woman”. Band Aid deconstructs the patriarchal lens through which we view love, and shows the audience how gendered expectations can impact a relationship.
When Ben seeks advice from his mother (Susie Essman) after a particularly brutal fight, she waxes poetic about how gender roles can play out in a marriage. Ben tells his mother the advice is “reductive”, but she replies that it’s the only way she knows how to look at a relationship. This scene is followed by Anna taking the stage at an open mic, singing a song she wrote about the emotions men and women do and do not expect of each other.
Lister-Jones’ examination of masculinity and femininity in the face of modern love thrives, its hilarity upstaged only by its authenticity. Her film triumphs in its subtlety, avoiding cliché story elements and reminding us that we can dismantle the heteronormative patriarchy one love song at a time.