The idea for Headless Chickens (Pollos Sin Cabeza) sprang from the heads of Pokeepsie Films. Although not football fans themselves, they figured when footballers and their agents are flush with money, there are many opportunities for sh*t to happen. They went to Writer and showrunner Jorge Valdano Sáenz to develop the concept.
From all the off-field drama that football provides, Valdano created this 7-episode comedic series that is very stylish and outlandish but still believable. He knows the reality, as he is the son of the Argentine and Real Madrid player/manager Jorge Valdano Sr. Which is not to say that Headless Chickens is based on any particular real life people.
A quick synopsis
The series wraps around the family and business complications of Alberto Martin, a former Real Madrid star whose career was cut short by a car accident. Now in his 40s, Beto (Hugo Silva) has a small struggling football agency with childhood friend Miguel (Gorka Otxoa) as his #2. Beto also has a serious girlfriend, an expensive ex-wife who is a media personality, 2 teenage daughters, not too many clients, and a lot of debt. Beto is an appealing character who sees his players for their potential as footballers and not as $$ signs.
Still, you know you are in for a crazy ride when the show begins with Beto’s rescue of his biggest client, aptly named Willy (Oscar Casas). Willy is panicked because he has a big press conference, but he’s taken 3 viagras to party with 3 women. He thinks his namesake is going to fall off. Beto talks Willy down. Literally. In the 2nd episode, Beto has to find help to quickly restore the career and reputation of his new Brazilian star Nardinho (Diogo Sales), who is exposed in a gay sex video.
Regardless of their problems, Beto connects with his players. He’s been there and behaved badly himself. But while he has been sober for 10 years, his footballing past means he is just a drink or a snort or a screw away from failing everyone and himself. He also isn’t a match for Martinelli (Miguel Ángel Solá), the Machiavellian competitor who attends Willy’s press conference and then steals the player away.
In the 3rd episode, during a wild night of partying, Beto has to tell his old teammate Toro (Gorka Lasaosa) that his footballing career is over. Spoiler alert — Toro drops dead. In the 4th episode, we learn how Beto and Miguel became friends. The 5th episode must have been influenced by Cocaine Bear. But during the bear episode, Beto’s daughters get embroiled in Martinelli’s attempts to destroy Beto through his family.
In the 6th episode, Beto wakes up in the hospital with no memory of how he got there. Through conversations with the ghostly Toro, Beto gradually pieces together what happened. Sort of like Memento.
In the 7th and final episode, it seems like Beto’s goodness is finally going to pay off and Martinelli’s manipulations have failed. Nardinho is nominated for Galactic player of the year. Because of Nardinho’s turnaround, an Arab investment fund offers Beto a high-paying job. However, Beto goes on a drug binge and ends up on the verge of losing everything. Cue the 2nd Season.
I apologize that this synopsis makes the series sound more like a drama than a comedy. That’s really the brilliance of this production — the way the actors and the setup make us perceive humor in situations that normally would not be funny.
The production values are excellent, the characters are interesting, the acting is great, and the series flows fast and succinctly, a virtual page turner. The amount of story the show can tell in such a short amount of time is the definition of entertainment.
On the downside, there is almost no soccer in the show. There is also a lot of drug use, even if it is portrayed comically. If you’re sensitive to swearing, there is a huge amount of that too. There are also a lot of fancy meals. Regardless, I’m looking forward to Season 2. I haven’t had this much fun watching any other series about football.
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7
- Released: 2023-04-28 (HBOMax)
- Title in Spanish is Pollos Sin Cabeza
- Other titles were Monos con pistola (Monkeys with a gun) , Playing Dirty
- In Spanish with English sub-titles and dubbing
- 7 episodes of 24-31 minutes each = 3 hours 7 mins
- I watched this on HBOMax
- Directors: Rodrigo Ruiz-Gallardón , Adolfo Martínez Pérez , Secun de la Rosa
- Stars: Hugo Silva (Beto), Miguel Ángel Solá (Martinelli) , Diogo Sales (Nardinho)
- Watch the Trailer in Spanish
- Pokeepsie Films Website