Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, a man leans back on the ground in 'The Hunger Games.'
(Lionsgate)

After All This Time, I’m Still Team Peeta

Like many fans of the Hunger Games series, I am rewatching all the movies to get ready for The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Although the films hit differently than they did originally, I am forever on Team Peeta.

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The original Hunger Games movies follow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in a post-apocalyptic version of North America called Panem. After volunteering to take her sister’s place in the brutal annual Hunger Games, Katniss begins on a path that leads to social upheaval in the country. It is very much a story about Katniss fighting against the evil President Snow and the fascism he represents. There is also, however, a love story that runs through the entire narrative. Technically, it is a love triangle between Katniss, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).

Katniss and Gale have been friends for most of their lives. Both are the oldest siblings from poor families and have shouldered the responsibility of taking care of their relatives. Although it is illegal, Katniss and Gale often hunt right outside of the boundary lines of their district to ensure their younger siblings eat. In a lot of ways, these two are similar in temperament and are bound by their shared traumas. Many fans are Team Gale and believe that they should have ended up together, but I don’t think it would have ever worked between them romantically. Being so similar would have forced them into an unhappy spiral, even though they care deeply for each other.

Also, I’ll just be honest and say that I don’t like Gale, so I wouldn’t want someone as great as Katniss to end up with him.

There was only ever Peeta

Then, there is the wonderful ray of sunshine known as Peeta Mellark. Sometimes, I cannot handle how perfect he is. Since they were little kids, Peeta has been enamored with Katniss. In the movies, they lost a bit of this aspect of their relationship, as they didn’t include Peeta’s memories of loving Katniss singing when they were in school. Before even entering the Hunger Games, Peeta had been looking out for Katniss by giving her bread from his family’s bakery when she was starving. Once they are in the games, every move Peeta makes is to help Katniss, up to and including sacrificing himself so she can live.

After Katniss and Peeta survive the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Peeta is head over heels in love with Katniss. Some people say Katniss was aromantic or just bound to Peeta out of guilt and a sense of duty. That’s fine, too. As someone who relates a lot to Katniss, I think she never felt comfortable lowering her walls enough to think about loving another person. Being stuck in survival mode for so long will do that to someone. One of my favorite scenes is when Katniss pins Peeta against the wall and yells at him because she can’t understand why he would tell Panem that he loves her. Girl, I have been there.

Eventually, Katniss lets Peeta in enough to fall for him. When Peeta is taken by the Capitol, all Katniss can think about is getting him back. Once Peeta is back with her, Snow tortures him with the one thing Peeta loves most in the world: Katniss. Is it possible to be simultaneously romantic and heartbreaking? With Katniss’s help, Peeta eventually recovers. Peeta’s open kindness and sweetness balances out Katniss’s hard exterior. Peeta and Katniss have their own happily ever after and start a family. It was a beautiful ending for both of them, and they deserved it.

For me, there was only ever “the boy with the bread.”

(featured image: Lionsgate)


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Author
D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.