"The trials of a young couple trying to find affordable housing may not sound like gripping television fare, but with real-estate prices spiralling out of control in China, Snail House was a hit when it went on the air in July. The gritty plot – revolving around two sisters trying to establish themselves in a fictional city that looks a lot like Shanghai – hit so close to the bone that Chinese authorities cancelled the show after only 10 episodes. It quickly found a new life online, where some 30 million people have viewed it.
The runaway popularity of the show highlights a dark undercurrent to what has otherwise been a successful year for the Chinese economy.
While the world marvels at China's ability to maintain an 8-per-cent growth rate amid a global recession, many ordinary Chinese don't see that translating into the better standards of living they envisioned. Economists, meanwhile, worry that speculation-driven investment is creating an expanding Dubai-style bubble in China's real-estate market."