When one thinks of prestige prime-time television dramas, stories of conflicted policemen, languid lawyers, and daring doctors come to mind. Ordinary people committing unspeakable crimes, as well as sword-wielding anti-heroes and fire-breathing dragons, can come to mind these days.
Professional wrestling is almost definitely not on most people’s minds when they’re looking for a little soul-stirring drama on TV.
That’s partially due to the fact that, despite its widespread success among audiences of a certain age group and the undeniable talent of the wrestlers involved, pro wrestling shows are often unbearably, if also unabashedly silliest, to watch.
Even so, if films like Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” and Stephen Merchant’s “Fighting With My Family” have taught us something, it’s that real human drama is taking place behind the scenes of those absurdist wrestling shows.
And, perhaps in the spirit of those acclaimed wrestling films, Starz is going all-in on a daring new sports drama called “Heels,” which will immerse audiences further than ever before in the world of professional wrestlers. Here’s all we learned so far about “Heels.”
When is Heels going to be released?
“Heels,” as it happens, has been in production at Starz for quite some time. And one has to wonder if the series didn’t get off the ground sooner because the network was hesitant to take a chance on a small-screen wrestling drama. However, the successful theatrical run of “Fighting With My Family” in 2019 no doubt helped grease the wheels a little, as production on “Heels” quickly ramped up.
It also helped that the show was produced and written by Michael Waldron, who has quickly established himself as one of Marvel Studios’ go-to writers in recent years, penning the upcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” before serving as producer, head writer, and showrunner on the Disney+ streaming series “Loki.”
If you’re interested, Waldron has also been tapped to write Kevin Feige’s upcoming “Star Wars” film, if that’s something you’re interested in.
In the case of Waldron’s “Heels,” the series was finally filmed late in 2020 under the direction of seasoned director Peter Segal and is set to premiere on Starz soon.
If what you’ve read so far has piqued your interest and you want to give “Heels” a chance, mark August 15, 2021 on your calendar, because that’s when the show will face off against all comers in the land of extended cable.
Who is in the Heels cast?
Though Michael Waldron’s name and current A-list status undoubtedly aided the development of “Heels,” the series’ star, Stephen Amell, must also have played a role.
If Amell’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he spent nearly a decade kicking ass in the CW superhero saga “Arrow” as Oliver Queen.
With “Arrow” behind him, Amell quickly moved on to a very different kind of show… one that allowed him to fully indulge in one of his favourite pastimes, wrestling.
For those who didn’t know or want to ignore, Amell has actually stepped into the ring with a legitimate pro or two this year, most notably in a 2015 SummerSlam debut.
With wrestling fanatic Amell on board as “Heels” leader Jack Spade, the hunt for his rival (and onscreen brother) Ace began immediately. Alexander Ludwig, a veteran of “Vikings,” was cast in the role. Mary McCormack (“Private Parts”), Kelli Berglund (“Animal Kingdom”), Chris Bauer (“The Deuce”), David James Elliot (“JAG”), Alison Luff (“New Amsterdam”), Duke Davis Roberts (“The Good Lord Bird”), and former NFL linebacker James Harrison helped round out the series’ impressive roster.
What’s the story behind Heels?
Now that we know when “Heels” will premiere on Starz and who will star in it, the real question is: what will the show be about?
And, as you would expect, wrestling is just the hook, serving as the exciting backdrop for a stark family drama about rival brothers (Amell and Ludwig) in a small Georgia town struggling to come to grips with their lot in life, and finally attempting to dig their way out by making a name for themselves on their late father’s small-town wrestling promotion (Elliot).
The show’s title is derived from a wrestling word for a villainous character whose primary purpose in the ring is to incite fan hate and ensure that they root for the “Face,” the would-be hero of a pre-scripted tale. Given the plot of “Heels,” it’s no surprise that Amell and Ludwig are cast as “Heel” and “Face” in the film, with each attempting to capitalise on their respective roles to land a spot on the national wrestling circuit.
As a result, their rivalry gains a new level of strength, which will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.
Overall, “Heels” looks to be a convincing mashup of “Fighting With My Family,” “The Wrestler,” and 2011’s underappreciated MMA drama “Warrior.”
And if you’ve seen any or all of those films, you’ll understand how exciting that is. On Starz beginning August 15, you can watch “Heels” for yourself.