It’s kind of amazing we haven’t had more behind-the-ring professional wrestling dramas before now—the milieu seems ripe for it. Wrestling combines showbiz and sports in a way few other enterprises do. You’ve got the larger-than-life characters, the backstage rivalries, the contrast between in-the-ring personas and the real performers, and the enjoyable sight of large men smacking the living crap out of each other—which is, no matter how much your craft-beer-loving wrestling fan buddy may protest, the big drawcard.
And you’ve got the jargon—all really cult-y subcultures are steeped in jargon. A Face is a good guy wrestling persona. They fight Heels—the bad guys. The storyline built around their battles is called kayfabe. Heels—and now you get the series’ title—adds to this the real life (well, fictional, but you get what I mean) drama underpinning the on-the-canvas action performed by the burly men of the Duffy Wrestling League (DWL), a tiny, struggling franchise in rural Georgia.
Our hero is former Green Arrow and avowed wrestling fan Stephen Amell as Jack Spade, who is trying to keep his late father’s wrestling business alive. Jack plays the heel to his younger brother Ace (Alexander Ludwig of The Hunger Games and Vikings), who might be a face in the ring but is a bit of a jerk outside of it.
Times are tough, and the financial pressures of running a wrestling league weigh heavy not just on the brothers Spade, but on the women in their lives, including Jack’s wife Staci (Allison Luff) and his business partner Willy (Mary McCormack). When Ace gets a chance to step up to the big leagues from former pro wrestler turned talent scout Wild Bill (Chris Bauer) a lot of formerly suppressed rivalry and resentment boils over.