Top 10 Most Relatable Turning Red Moments
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
For a movie with a giant red panda, "Turning Red" is surprisingly relatable. For this list, we'll be looking at the moments, themes and references that made audiences feel seen in this 2022 Pixar classic. Our countdown includes teenage crushes, female friendships, awkward adolescence, and more!
Top 10 Most Relatable Turning Red Moments
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top10 Most Relatable Turning Red Moments.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the moments, themes and references that made audiences feel seen in this 2022 Pixar classic.
Which “Turning Red” moment resonated with you the most? Share it with us in the comments.
#10: Priya’s a Vampire Fan
If you grew up in the 00s, you probably went through a vampire phase at some point too. While Mei introduces her friends to the audience, Priya’s seen reading a book called “Nightfall”. The cover looks strikingly similar to posters from the “Twilight” saga. It’s such a small Easter egg, but one that speaks volumes to the Twihards out there. Images of moody, sparkly vampires come flooding back as do our memories of that time in our lives. Whether you’ve moved on from your vampire-loving days or they’re still your guilty pleasure, this nod’s totally relatable. Now, we just need to know if she’s team vampire or werewolf!
#9: Getting Embarrassed by Your Parents
Parents, eh? Gotta love ‘em, but they sure know how to pick their timing sometimes. This is probably why most of us felt secondhand embarrassment when Mei’s mom shows up at her school waving around personal hygiene products. If your family ever announced your period to your entire class, then we’re truly sorry. To make matters worse, Ming causes a scene on several occasions when she shows up outside the school to keep a watchful eye on Mei. This certainly isn’t helpful for someone trying to keep their emotions at bay - and we can’t say we don’t know the feeling, even if that exact situation hasn’t happened to us!
#8: Teenage Crushes
If you’ve ever been a teenage girl, or you’re currently one, you’ll understand just how intense those first crushes can get. And as far as Mei’s go, yep, we’ve all been there: the wild imagination, the doodle-filled notebook and the confusion that comes with raging hormones. Plenty of viewers recalled their own similar experiences from the sketches, to the fear of being caught to how their parents actually reacted. In fact, it’s so recognizable that we got the sweats just watching this scene. The hashtag #At13 even started trending in rebuttal to those who called the movie unrelatable. If you thought this was unrealistic, you’ve probably never been a teenage girl.
#7: The ‘90s & ‘00s Throwbacks
While the film’s message is universal, there are plenty of references that will fill 90s and early 00s kids with plenty of nostalgia. Kids today likely won’t understand the joys and frustrations of caring for a Tamagotchi, the thrill of owning a flip phone or the adrenaline of secretly passing notes in class. What about the trend of covering your belonging with endless stickers, listening to the latest CDs and of course, boy band mania? We also love that the kids jam out to Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious” at Tyler’s party, without forgetting of course the most defining track of any early 00s party: the “Cha Cha Slide”.
#6: Notebook Doodles
Without social media, YouTube videos and other online pastimes, kids used to actually pick up a pencil or pen and draw on paper. Doodles ranged from hearts and funky looking S’s to full on drawings of your latest crushes and obsessions. Even if you weren’t artistically inclined, you probably sat next to someone whose notebook was filled with anime-style sketches. They were all the rage back then, even though they weren’t necessarily considered ‘cool’. But that encapsulates Mei’s personality perfectly and undoubtedly made other millennials feel seen too. Fan-fiction and other similar creative expressions were a great way to let your imagination take flight, but hopefully you were better at hiding yours from your parents.
#5: Female Friendships
“Turning Red” does a wonderful job of celebrating genuine female friendships. The creators wanted to portray a more realistic bond that dispels the myth that teen girl groups are always filled with drama. Sure, all friendships go through highs and lows, but they’re still integral to our formative years. Indeed, Mei and her friends remind us of what we were like at that age and help us recall some of our fondest memories, just goofing off and being our weird selves with our besties. It was refreshing to see a film focus on friendship over romance. After all, crushes come and go, but these are the relationships that last.
#4: Cultural Representation
Much like another early 2020s Disney animation, “Turning Red” shows the importance of representation on our screens. Since it’s based on creator Domee Shi’s actual experiences as a Chinese kid growing up in Canada, it’s hardly surprising that it resonates with so many. It showed the cultural struggle that many children of immigrants will understand. Even so, Mei’s clearly proud of her Chinese heritage. The film was also praised for its authentic and respectful depictions of Chinese culture, including their home’s aesthetic and the importance of food in traditions and culture. Shi might have drawn from her own life, but her stories are shared by many.
#3: Awkward Adolescence
Despite being something that approximately half the world’s population experiences at some point, periods remain a taboo subject. Even if we put the “red peony” to one side for the moment, the awkwardness of adolescence is pretty much universal. Still, some thought this content was too mature for Pixar audiences and were left feeling pretty uncomfortable. Well, we hate to break it to them, but this is what being a teenager is and at some point, kids are going to find that out. We applaud “Turning Red” for taking a difficult time in many young people’s lives and normalizing it so that when the time comes, they don’t feel ashamed, anxious or afraid.
#2: Intergenerational Relationships
As we mentioned earlier, "Turning Red" was inspired by creator Domee Shi's life — including her relationship with her mom. Like Mei, she was "mom's good little daughter. And then…BOOM. Magical puberty hit.". We all know what it's like to butt heads with our parents over generational differences, such as taste in fashion or music. Interestingly, the film also gives insight into Ming's relationship with her mother and the battle between being your own person and still vying for your parents' approval. It also recognized the need to address the highly nuanced issue of generational trauma, which it did in a delicate and healing manner.
#1: Embrace Your Cringe
Yes, Mei and her friends do plenty of things that might be considered cringe-worthy, but if we're being completely honest with ourselves, we did them too. So, if you found yourself recoiling while watching the film, chances are it's probably because you recognize yourself in these characters. But hey, being a teenage weirdo is just a rite of passage. If anything, "Turning Red" teaches us to embrace even the most embarrassing parts of our lives and personalities. Take the guilty out of guilty pleasure, let your freak flag fly high, and just enjoy being young and having fun. We couldn't have said it better, Mei!