Inside Out 2 is in the works at Disney, and given its teased themes, the film will likely run into similar backlash to that received by Turning Red‘s controversial plot. These kinds of coming-of-age stories can be important for adolescents to watch and relate to, but the world of teenagers can be messy. Turning Red explored some controversial topics that some parents were uncomfortable with their children being exposed to. Since many of these revolved around the changes that teenagers go through, Inside Out 2 risks running into similar issues.


The first Inside Out movie explored the inner workings of people’s emotions, especially in relation to big life changes like growing up and moving away from the familiar and comfortable. The Pixar movie‘s protagonist, Riley, was able to learn that each of her emotions is important, and the film explored this by embracing the idea of seeing basic feelings as separate entities within each person’s mind. It was an effective way to incorporate complex psychiatry into a children’s movie, and the reveal that Inside Out 2 will bring this into the teenage years reveals that this trend will continue – in a potentially messy way.

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Inside Out 2 Could Face Similar Backlash To Turning Red

Composite image of characters from Inside Out and Turning Red

Turning Red had a very genuine way of portraying the early teen years as beautifully messy. Meilin Lee’s character arc revolved around learning to set boundaries with her parents, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. The animated film showed Mei experiencing physical attraction for the first time and explored her shame at having those secret desires exposed to her mother (and then the Daisy Mart). Then, Turning Red explored concepts like periods and other body changes using Mei’s red panda metaphor. These were all important things to normalize, but it was uncomfortable for some.

Disney received significant backlash from these audiences, many of whom were parents who hadn’t expected their young kids to be exposed to concepts they believed they weren’t ready for. The debate was focused on whether the discussion of menstruation and sexuality should be destigmatized or if these conversations should be left to the parents instead. Now with Inside Out 2 set to head down a similar path, it seems likely that this backlash will only continue.

Inside Out 2 Could Tackle Some Mature Concepts

Joy in Inside Out

The first Inside Out movie teased that Riley was on the brink of puberty, but the implications of what that meant were presented as more of an inside joke with parents. However, with Inside Out 2 a reality, Pixar seems ready to dive headlong into the messiness that is an adolescent’s most complicated experience. Turning Red observed Meilin’s changes from the outside looking in and was already controversial. Given Inside Out‘s basic premise of exploring a person’s complicated mind, it seems that the sequel has the potential to get even deeper into the nitty-gritty.

The topics that Inside Out could include are virtually endless. Puberty is full of questions regarding sexuality, body positivity or dysmorphia, gender identity, and many other issues that have become controversial within the mainstream. Audiences would be seeing these things play out in Riley’s head, and this is likely to make many uncomfortable and invite similar backlash to that seen from Disney’s controversial Turning Redif not even worse. Still, Pixar has proven that it doesn’t shy away from such conversations, and having already been through this before, the studio knows exactly what it is doing.

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Why Inside Out 2 Shouldn’t Shy Away From Topics Of Puberty

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) in 'Inside Out'

Pixar is moving forward with Inside Out 2 and the toils of the teenage years, which is an excellent sign that they weren’t discouraged by the backlash received over Turning Red. Ultimately, society has gone too long being afraid to talk about those uncomfortable adolescent years, which makes it even more terrifying for those going through it. By seeing Meilin struggle with what she considered her darkest impulses before ultimately learning to accept that as part of her messier self, children can follow her lead.

Inside Out 2 has the opportunity to take these lessons further, and though it won’t be popular with everyone, it’s essential that it does. Entering into the teenage years is like leaping into the unknown. If Pixar uses its characters to demonstrate what comes next in a child-friendly way, adolescents can be better prepared. Of course, parents can ultimately choose whether their kids watch, so no control is being taken away from those who would rather have these conversations themselves. If it means more kids can feel seen and therefore better appreciate their bodies and minds, Pixar shouldn’t be afraid to go there with Inside Out 2.

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