In the world of professional wrestling, “kayfabe” — the act of buying into a story that you and everyone involved knows is fictional — is everything. In the slow-burn new drama Heels (premiering Aug. 15 on Starz), two brothers in an indie wrestling league grapple with the dangers of living the lies they perform in the ring — and the ones they tell themselves. What happens to kayfabe when you’re the only one left believing.Heels Season 1 Download
By day, Jack Spade (Stephen Amell) is a lawn mower salesman in fictional Duffy, Ga. All other moments, he’s working to keep the Duffy Wrestling League — his family’s promotion — afloat after the unexpected death of his father, Tom (a buff David James Elliott). Jack pulls double duty in the DWL, performing as a “heel” (wrestling parlance for villain) and cranking out story lines for his players. Jack’s brother, Ace (Vikings‘ Alexander Ludwig), is the league’s popular “face,” a golden-haired pretty boy who loves being loved by the crowd. But when a key match leads to disappointment, Ace embraces his inner heel with fatalistic resignation.Much like Starz’s shrewd stripper drama P-Valley, Heels finds its raison d’être in the stories of the people behind the onstage personas. Allen Maldonado (You’re the Worst) is perfectly cast as Rooster, a charismatic wrestling veteran who’s unable to hide his resentment about the limitations placed on Black performers: “That championship belt? It only really stands out against a white backdrop.” His colleague Apocalypse (former NFL linebacker James Harrison), a recovering addict, thinks Rooster’s got it all wrong: Every chance they get in the ring is a gift. Character actor treasure Chris Bauer (The Wire, True Blood) is Wild Bill Hancock, a hard-drinking human cautionary tale. Bill made it out of the DWL to the majors — and all he got for his trouble was an addiction to oxy and the misery of watching pro wrestling “be destroyed by a ruthless lust for money.” Showrunner Mike O’Malley is a hoot as a rival promoter hell-bent on putting Jack out of business with his bloody, sensationalistic Florida Wrestling Dystopia league.