Turning Red 2022: Best Reflection of Teenagers

Turning Red 2022 Best Reflection of Teenagers

Turning Red 2022 is a heartwarming and funny Disney Pixar movie. It did an outstanding job shining the mother-daughter dynamic as well as a true reflection of teenagers. Let’s check out some details.

Mother-Daughter Dynamic in Turning Red 2022

The relationship between Mei and her mother Ming is  the heart of Turning Red 2022. As Mei discovers her ability to transform into a red panda, she also finds herself at odds with her mother, who is deeply distrustful of the curse’s power and wants to lock it away for good.

Ming explains the curse of the red panda
Ming explains the curse of the red panda

Ming explains that the curse of the red panda has been passed down through the women in their family for generations. Mei’s mother, Ming explains that the curse of the red panda has been passed down through the women in their family for generations. The curse can be sealed away in an amulet during a ritual performed on the night of a red moon and Mei would be able to resume her normal life as all of her female relatives up until this point have done.

Mei, our main character, is the first female in her family to not seal away the red panda curse using an amulet during a ritual performed on the night of a red moon. Her mother, Ming, explains that all of their female ancestors have chosen to do so until now.

Mei herself has always been deeply conflicted about what to do—she knows that as long as she keeps her power as a red panda and continues to use it to help others, she will be able to help people who have nowhere else to turn. On the other hand, Mei knows deep down that she has never felt fully comfortable with who she is or where she comes from. She feels like an outsider among her peers at school and doesn’t fit in at home either—she’s never known what it’s like not to be different from those around her.

Mei and Ming, the mother-daughter dynamic at the center of this story, are so sweet together from the start that it’s clear their relationship is a special one. Mei clearly loves her mother very much, and Ming cares for her daughter just as deeply.

Turning Red 2022 - Mei and Ming - mother-daughter dynamic
Turning Red 2022 – Mei and Ming – mother-daughter dynamic

When Mei has to leave her friends early at the start of the film to help her mother run the temple, she’s not at all resentful. She tells her friends that she likes helping, and we see through montage how Mei and Ming work in harmony to lead tours and take care of the temple. It’s clear they have fun together, too—we see Mei and her mother bond while watching a period drama together, making catty remarks about the characters with each other and having a genuinely nice time together. 

This is only interrupted when an ad for 4*Town, a boy band Mei and her friends love, comes on the television and Ming expresses distaste for both the boys and Mei’s friends.

Mei and Ming’s relationship, like that of any mother and daughter, is complicated, and over the course of the film it becomes fraught with tension as Mei realizes that she must be her own person.

Before she discovers her powers, Mei feels the heavy weight of her mother’s expectations for her on her shoulders. She’d been happy to meet those expectations—getting good grades, hanging out with people her mother approved of, and not keeping secrets—but now, for the first time in her life, she can’t help but feel suffocated by them.

With this new power, Mei is torn between two directions in her teenage years: the first is her mother and the comfort of everything she knows; the safety that comes from doing what is expected of her. The other is her friends and the boundless support they show for Mei coming into her own; a choice to become someone new.

At the end of Turning Red 2022, we’re left with a very different Mei than the one we started with, and a very different relationship between mother and daughter.

Mother Daughter Dynamic in Turning Red 2022
Mother Daughter Dynamic in Turning Red 2022

Mei is still helping her mother run the temple, but it isn’t her entire life anymore. The ending of the show doesn’t show them leaving the temple, going to make their own way in the world. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.

The relationship between Mei and her mother is not gone, simply evolved. This also feels very true to real life: they are not inseparable nor are they estranged; it’s something in between.

A True Reflection of Teenagers in Turning Red 2022

Menstruation

The first and maybe most embarrassing reflection of teenagers is menstruation.  Mei runs into the bathroom as the red panda. She is embarrassed to tell her mother what is happening, so she just says that something must be wrong with her. Her mother first assumes her daughter’s strange behavior is because “the red peony bloomed.”

Menstruation
Menstruation

Ming runs out and retrieves everything her daughter needs for her first menstrual cycle: ibuprofen, a hot water bottle, and pads. She explains the different types of pads — “regular, overnight, scented, unscented, thin, ultra-thin, ultra-thin with wings.”

Ming concludes by telling her daughter not to be ashamed about this new stage in life–that it will happen for years and years to come. She also promotes shameless period talk amongst young people whose red peonies have just bloomed

Puberty

Puberty is not for the faint of heart, but one of the most important reflections of teenagers that everyone needs to experience. It’s a confusing and uncomfortable time for many, and finding ways to talk about it can be tricky. Many films and television shows have attempted to tackle this subject matter in a meaningful way, but few take it as seriously and maturely as Inside Out’s sequel, Turning Red 2022.

Puberty
Puberty

While Inside Out dipped its toe in the puberty pool by addressing the “growing up” aspect of Riley’s life, the sequel dives right in. Turning Red 2022 seamlessly uses the red panda transformation as an underlying hint to the start of Mei’s pubescent years. As she wakes up as a red panda, she’s itchy, smelly, hairy—and feels like “a monster.” The film uses the red panda as a metaphor for puberty: Mei is just as confused, overwhelmed, and emotional as she goes through changes that are beyond her control.

Turning Red gives viewers a positive outlook on the transformations a young person’s mind and body experience in their teenage years. By using this creature transformation metaphor, it portrays what it means to grow up without explicitly saying so.

Realistic Teen Crushes

In Turning Red 2022, Mei and her friends may be hiding their crushes on the 4*Town convenience store worker, but they’re not hiding their fantasies of falling in love.

Realistic Teen Crushes in Turning Red 2022
Realistic Teen Crushes in Turning Red 2022

Mei expresses her newfound crush in her notebook, not by doodling his name in hearts, but by drawing full-on shirtless mermen manga of the boy. While her drawings and shouts of “Awooga!” may seem extreme, this is a very realistic representation of teen crushes. And if you look close enough, there might just be some 4*Town fanfiction hiding in that notebook as well.

Cussing

While cussing is a huge part of the English language, and many movies do it quite often, Disney has always held back on letting its characters utter any profanities. But Pixar has been slowly but surely breaking that barrier for years.

In 2018’s Incredibles 2, the animation studio was under fire for having some characters use minor curse words like “crap,” “damn,” and “hell” in what’s considered a children’s movie. 

Cussing in Turning Red 2022
Cussing in Turning Red 2022

The backlash didn’t stop them from continuing the trend, allowing Mei to utter “Crap!” in frustration and expressing her annoyance at her family in “Turning Red 2022” as well, but the cursing doesn’t go beyond that, and some could argue that the word “psycho” is much more offensive than any mild swear words.

If Disney wants to keep up with its live-action counterparts, it’s going to have to get used to the idea of including a little bit more adult humor in its animated movies. Or maybe just let Pixar do whatever it wants and forget about all the rules.

Mei Talks To The Audience

This isn’t the first time a Disney film has broken the fourth wall with its main character. In The Emperor’s New Groove, Kuzco addresses the audience directly several times throughout the movie. But, Turning Red 2022 is apparently the first Pixar film to have a character talking to the audience and her fellow characters.

For those not in the know, “breaking the fourth wall” is when a character in a movie or TV show addresses their audience directly (whether they’re aware of it or not).

Mei Talks To The Audience in Turning Red 2022
Mei Talks To The Audience in Turning Red 2022

As the viewers’ first introduction to Mei, she’s quick with no hesitation to state her name and age, and she also makes it clear that she feels confident dressing however she wants—even if that includes safety-pinning a Tamagotchi keychain to her backpack.

Many fans believe that this moment symbolizes Mei’s confidence in herself and her ability to be who she really is.

4*Town in Turning Red 2022

Boy bands and idols are an intricate part of everyone’s teenage years. They capture the hearts of teen girls worldwide with their silky-smooth voices, their matching white outfits, and their love songs that they definitely wrote about you and only you.

4*Town in Turning Red 2022
4*Town in Turning Red 2022

It’s no surprise, then, that Turning Red’s fictional boy band 4*Town takes inspiration from several well-known boy bands from back in the day. Their dance moves are a nod to Backstreet Boys, their name is very close to O-Town, and the little asterisk in their name is a shout-out to N*SYNC.

Cool Gift for Turning Red 2022’s Fans

Final Thoughts

Turning Red 2022 is a true reflection of teenagers and the mother-daughter dynamic that we have come to know and love. Turning Red 2022 is one of those rare films that leaves you feeling like you’ve seen something truly unique and special—but it still appeals to the masses and has enough substance, depth, and heart to keep you thinking about it long after it’s over.

If you’re a huge Turning Red 2022 fan, or know someone in your life who is, I definitely recommend checking out our Turning Red Collection. It’s an awesome way to show your fandom and feel like you’re a part of the mother-daughter dynamic that the movie portrays so well.

×
×