Heels is a drama television program on the Starz network. The show follows the fictional Spade family and their wrestling promotion, Duffy Wrestling League. Micheal Waldron, the creator of Heels, received a straight-to-series order in February 2017. After director and casting changes, Heels premiered on Starz on August 15, 2021. They renewed Heels for a second season three months after the premiere. The second season of Heels ran from July 28, 2023, through September 15, 2023. On September 25, 2023, Variety announced that Heels would not be renewed for a third season.
There have already been recaps and spoilers for Heels. This article will not be for spoilers of Heels. It will focus on what the Starz series did right, the cancellation, and what can happen next. There has been an out-pour of love and praise for the show, even before cancellation. On Rotten Tomatoes, Heels scored 96% for the first season and 90% for the second season from critics. Fans and critics alike agreed that Heels was a must-watch show.
Fans talk about how great the casting is for Heels. Stephen Amell played the lead heel Jack Spade, the older brother of the two Spade brothers. His previous experience in professional wrestling, though it was only a few matches, showed with his portrayal on screen. Alexander Ludwig played Jack’s younger brother, Ace. Ludwig brought innocence and blissful ignorance in his depiction of Ace. Chris Bauer as Wild Bill Hancock, a wrestling veteran that made it to “the big leagues”, provided a mentor role as a supporting character. But the breakout star was Kelli Berglund as Crystal Tyler. Crystal began as a valet for Ace in season one. During season two, she developed as a focal character and a wrestler. Some know Berglund for her time on the Disney XD show Lab Rats but it is Heels that got people talking about her performance.
Heels took an amazing approach by hiring multiple wrestlers to either play supporting roles or stunt actors. On the list of recurring roles are CM Punk, AJ Lee, Luke Hawx, PJ Hawx, and even Mick Foley. Some notable background appearances noticed by eagle-eyed fans were Aron Stevens, Nick Aldis, and Jordynne Grace. Andre Chase revealed on August 29, 2021, on Instagram that he was a double for the role of Ricky Rabies (CM Punk’s character). With Scott Hunter and Luke Hawx heading up the stunt team, Heels felt like the wrestling matches on weekly television.
Apart from casting, the story written by Michael Waldron and his staff captivated the audience in each episode. Whether the plot of the episode was the struggle between two brothers, a promoter trying to formulate a wrestling show, or the tragic backstory of Tom Spade (Jack and Ace’s father), fans were hooked. The overarching story of a man trying to balance all aspects of his life is one that resonated with a lot of people. The feeling that wrestling fans would enjoy the wrestling and the drama of the series is what drove high ratings from the audience. Even non-wrestling fans found a connection with multiple characters from the show. The writing on Heels had an impact on fans throughout its two seasons on Starz.
Some audience members did not like the depth that some stories went to. The plot involving what happened to Tom Spade led a portion of the viewers away from the show. There are going to be tough conversations and subject matters presented in several shows. It is up to the viewer to decide whether to stay or leave. For some, the realism of different stories of love, death, heartache, and growth were the things that kept them tuning in every week.
Reason for Cancellation
If Heels had a solid cast and relatable plots, why was it canceled after two seasons? A source told IGN that Heels and other programs on Starz were canceled because “they did not find a large enough audience to justify” their continuation on the network. Some speculate the cancellation may be due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. The strikes may have affected any progression of future scripts. They also impacted the promotion of season two. Even though fans were passionate about Heels, the number of fans declined during the second season.
Though Heels is down, it may not be out. There are plenty of options for a continuation of the series. Whether Starz decides to renew the series or the series gets picked up by another network, Heels has the potential to have a revitalization. The Peacock Network, home of WWE streaming, would be a good fit for the series. Another network that would be a good fit would be Prime. Due to the graphic nature of some scenes and situations in episodes, Prime would make a suitable home for Heels. An option they could take is releasing new episodes on YouTube. Companies have utilized YouTube to build their audience in hopes of gaining a network deal.
I am going to hold out hope that Heels can either find a new home or get renewed at Starz. Even if the show is not renewed, fans will always remember Heels as a favorite.. Assuming they can bring back the same writing team and the same cast, it would not be hard to assume that Heels would receive a continuation. Did you watch Heels? What were your thoughts on the show and its cancellation? If Heels were to get picked up by another network, where would you like to see it end up?