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Why are we all so obsessed with The Hunger Games again?

In the last few months, it has become abundantly clear that we're all back in our Hunger Games era, but what is it about the franchise that's drawing us in?

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

Every evening, I log into TikTok for an eclectic night of entertainment —  by which, I mean watching the same three South Park clips and a robot voice reading out Reddit Am I The Asshole posts alongside a split screen of someone playing Subway Surfers.

But in recent weeks, I’ve found my feed dominated by The Hunger Games content. No matter how hard I scroll, I’m faced with edits of Peeta cosplaying as a rock; breakdowns on how the reaping was rigged against Katniss all along; and my personal favourite, rants about how much everyone hates Gale. Or, as TikTok calls him, the ‘Prim Reaper.’ Perhaps the dystopian nature of the world is causing people to revisit the teen movie, or maybe its related to the new movie — based on a Hunger Games spin-off — coming out this year.

But with Google searches for The Hunger Games quadrupling between February and March, and #thehungergames TikTok tag having 2.8 billion views, the proof is in the pudding. We’re officially experiencing a Hunger Games renaissance. But what is it about The Hunger Games that makes it so great?

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1. Its critique of celebrity culture feels more relevant than ever

Back when The Hunger Games was first released in 2008, the idea of impoverished nations having to fight to the death in a reality show felt like a dark, but vaguely possible reality. But now, fifteen years on, our insaitable desire to see people at their most vulnerable moments on reality TV shows no signs of slowing down.

Sure, contestants in TV series like The Traitors, Love Island, Married At First Sight, and Love Is Blind aren’t murdering each other on-screen, but their success relies on ‘drama’. And for ‘drama’ to happen, contestants arguably have to traumatise themselves — enduring things like conflict, heartbreak, and betrayal — all for our viewing pleasure and entertainment.

Couple that with how former contestants often discuss mental health implications often involved in reality TV, and how influencer culture as a whole relies on creators providing more and more insight into their personal lives, it’s easy to see how parallels can be made between the way things are now, and the way the Capitol operates.

jennifer lawrence as katniss and elizabeth banks as effie the hunger games

2. As does its anti-establishment undertones

Wherever you are in the world right now, there’s a lot of political unrest going on. Ukraine is at war with Russia; France is having all these protests; a former US president was literally indicted, and the UK is currently going through both a cost-of-living crisis and more Prime Ministers than Spider-Man movies had reboots.

When you add the growing online popularity around anti-capitalism and the influx of ‘eat the rich’ 2022 movies into the mix, it makes sense that a franchise based on standing up against a troublesome regime resonates with many people right now.

jennifer lawrence as katniss with a bow and arrow in the hunger games

3. Jennifer Lawrence is having a renaissance

Back in the 2010s, starring in a huge adventure movie franchise meant that Jennifer Lawrence was something of a national treasure, dominating both headlines and box offices.

The mixed reviews surrounding horror movie mother!, in which Lawrence starred, meant that the actor had an arguably quieter few years. Still, with the release of drama movie Causeway, people were reminded of what was so great about Lawrence in the first place. She’s one hell of an actor, and portrays pain and trauma magnificently.

This led to many people collectively realising that she did a similarly layered performance as Katniss, with the Hunger Games sequels allowing her the space to really dig into Katniss’ trauma following the events of the first film.

jennifer lawrence as katniss and liam hemsworth as gale in the hunger games

4. A new generation are discovering the franchise

In this case, the idea that I err more on the side of ‘millennial’ makes me sick in my mouth. Still, with the first Hunger Games movie released over a decade ago, a lot of Gen Z has now reached the age where they can engage more with YA franchises. With this movie based on a book being one of the most famous, it makes sense for droves of young’uns to come across it now.

jennifer lawrence as katniss and josh hutcherson as peeta in the hunger games

5. It’s the perfect franchise for TikTok

TikTok edits rely on three main things: heartthrob actors, plenty of space to add nuance, and romantic tension. So, with three books (and four movies) worth of subtexts, love triangles, Peeta being a simp, and Gale being swole, the TikTokification of The Hunger Games is something Marvel villain Thanos would probably describe as ‘inevitable.’ It has over a billion users, after all. It was going to happen eventually.

josh hutcherson as peeta in the hunger games

6. We’re all feeling nostalgic

As much as I’d like to shake my fist and blame those darn kids for all of this, us zillennials (I refuse to refer to myself as a millennial, sorry) have to take some responsibility, too. With Twilight having a similar surge of interest last year, and so many live-action Disney remakes, reboots, and sequels being shoved down our throats, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all in a nostalgia era right now.

If you want to know more about the Hunger Games spin-off, check out our guide to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes release date. Or, keep the nostalgic vibes going with our guides to the best ‘80s movies, ‘90s movies, and best movies of all time.