Is Duffy an Actual Town in Heels? Is DWL a Real Wrestling League?

The Starz drama series ‘Heels’ is set in the small town of Duffy, Georgia, and tells a story of Shakespearean themes. Brothers Jack (Stephen Amell) and Ace (Alexander Ludwig) Spade try to continue their late father’s legacy and keep the Duffy Wrestling League, or the DWL, going. As the series progresses, the town remains an important part of the narrative. The Spade family members are regarded as local celebrities by the townsfolk, and we learn in season 2 what impact Tom Spade’s death had on the town. 

Duffy is Not a Real Town

Duffy, Georgia, is not a real town. The filming for the series takes place in and around Atlanta, Georgia. Multiple scenes have been shot in the town of Cumming in Forsyth County, Georgia, as well. The presence of Duffy in the narrative may not be as prominent to refer to it as a character unto itself but the town and its people still perform the role that the chorus does in Greek tragedies.

If for one moment we look beyond the pro-wrestling aspect of the series, ‘Heels’ reveals itself to be a rural drama. Duffy is a town where pro-wrestling has a massive fan following, and people who partake in it are revered as heroes, even those who haven’t necessarily achieved fame beyond the borders of the town. After Tom’s suicide, his widow, Carol, tells Wild Bill not to make his presence known at the wake. Bill is a former wrestling star whose presence is bound to take the limelight from Tom at his own wake. Bill recognizes this and agrees not to go in.

Although Jack is the proprietor of DWL, it’s ultimately an indie promotion, and the Spades are very much are a working-class family. Their financial struggle is an important part of the narrative and can be regarded as a microcosmic example of what Duffy as a town faces. This also manifests in the storylines of the supporting characters, including Jack’s wife Staci, who aspires to fulfill the dreams she has for herself.

DWL is a Fictional Real Wrestling League

Duffy Wrestling League is not a real wrestling promotion, though ‘Heels,’ as a show, is embedded with aspects of reality. It depicts the struggles of operating family-run indie promotions in small towns of America. In an interview with Screen Crush, series creator Michael Waldron spoke about his inspirations. “It was thinking back to a little bit of the NWA a little bit, all of that stuff,” he said. “I was a WCW kid. I came along after all of the territories had really been gobbled up by Vince McMahon. So a lot of that stuff I consumed watching old VHS tapes. But just the industry and the characters, these larger than life people. There’s a line in the show where a character says ‘It’s all a ring.’ And I think that’s something a lot of these guys, certainly back in the day, that was really held true. And so I just pulled inspiration from all the folks that I was really entertained by growing up.”

As a follow-up question, Waldron was asked whether the rise of AEW impacted where the series might go in future seasons. He responded with a firm “no,” adding that the “show is about a small indie promotion dreaming of ultimately competing on the biggest stage in the same way that somewhere like AEW is trying to do now with some success. So, no, it hasn’t really changed. I sort of always saw that on the horizon — not because I’m a fortune teller, but it was just clear that with the internet and everything — now it’s like the playing field has been equalized.”

Read More: Heels Season 2 Episode 1 Recap and Ending, Explained