Dr. Drew Pinsky by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Dr. Drew Pinsky by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

In recent months, talk of pregnant teens both real and fictional has saturated the media, from Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, to The Secret of the American Teenager, from the Gloucester, MA reports to Juno. In the midst of it all, Dr. Drew Pinksy is tackling the topic of teens and sex in MTV's new series, Sexwith Mom and Dad.

Pinksy, who's also a dad himself, gave TVGuide.com the scoop on the new show, in which he leads group conversations with teens and their parents on the tough topic. He explains how sex has become a "drug in our culture," and admits that having "the talk" with your kids is still awkward - even if you're a famous therapist. - Anna Dimond

TVGuide.com: Sex...with Mom and Dad is based on a British show. How will your version differ from the original?
Dr. Drew Pinksy:
My problem with the program overseas is that it was so narrowly focused on the sexuality, it missed the point that sexuality is a piece, a symptom of a much larger dynamic. In this country, the producers gave me a chance to work on the overall dynamic, and then they could then focus in, from an editing standpoint, on the arc of it.

TVGuide.com: That's a good thing, because it sounds like you felt you were rolling the dice with this.
Well, that's sort of what I do in media. The people who create TV create TV, and I don't really know how to do that. I might have some instincts, but one of my instincts is to let the people who create great television do that, and just find a way to insert myself into it in such a way that something good happens.

TVGuide.com: Based on some preliminary scenes of the new series, it seems like everyone involved is authentic and really participating.
We cover tons of territory, so they really have to look at everything. And that's what I like about it. One of the things that really struck me about the families we worked with was, one of the themes that recurred in this little group was a deep fear - I mean a profound fear, sort of a rigid fear, that somehow, by just broaching the topic with their kids, they would create some sort of endorsement of behavior. The parents were so surprised that they could begin to have a conversation about this topic, and maybe for the first time, the kids were listening.

TVGuide.com: Why is talking about sex still so hard for people, and for families?
We don't help parents understand what they can do. But I would tell people, you really need to get the conversation going between eight and 12. And by conversation, I mean conversation. Just offer open-ended questions and opportunities.

TVGuide.com: What would you ask a kid of that age? Call me old-fashioned, but eight is really young.
It is very young, but look at what they're exposed to on television. It's very simple. You go, 'Hey, do you have any questions about this?' And that's it. Present open-ended opportunities. And I would urge against jumping in to some sort of lesson. The kids would freak out.

TVGuide.com: It seems like there's so much information out there for young people, yet, are kids still in the dark about sex?
They're not in the dark, they're in the dark about the implications of all this. They're in the dark about the emotional reality, they're in the dark about the biological reality, they're in denial about this thing that has become a drug in our culture, rather than an expression about intimate relations. It's too far the other way: It's not that they don't know about it, they know everything, but at the same time, they know nothing. And that's the problem. So the human piece is left out, the human reality is taken away, it's all thought of very casually.

TVGuide.com: You work with people on TV all the time, but what does it really take for young people to change behavior, even with all this information?
That is the question. By the way, when you solve that, let's go to Stockholm together and get the Nobel Prize, because this has been the constant struggle in the adolescent age group, because they're wonderfully knowledgeable, and yet we've done little to change their behavior. What my approach has been is to create a relatable source, that is to say, study cases. They don't care what I say, but when they hear a young person going through a heavy experience, and I'm able to make sense of it for them, then they hear what I'm saying.

TVGuide.com: Was having "the talk" any easier for you, because of your training?
Absolutely not. You're still just rendered parent. Maybe it's worse, because there's an imperative behind it and I know when I'm falling short. Nothing makes it easier. Maybe having faith in what needs to happen makes it a little easier - knowing it's the right thing to do, knowing the empiric result - but it doesn't make it easier.

TVGuide.com: It seems like there's so much of a focus on teen pregnancy right now, both in the media and in politics. Why do you think that is, and what's MTV's relationship to that?
It's a huge issue, it's been a massive issue for decades. What's going to be good for young people? All of us want young people to make better choices, to delay their sexual contact, to make sure that they fully understand the implications of those choices - which of course, they never do - and to be prepared to make those choices if they decide to go into something physical. How to go from point A to point B is what's galvanizing.

I will tell you that the biggest issue in my mind is surviving our destroyed family system. Kids that come from chaos create chaos. They're the ones we can affect the most through media. They're affected most powerfully negatively through media, and I think the most positively affected through media. So it becomes our responsibility to send those messages of consequence to that population, because they don't trust it through the usual sources.

Sex...with Mom and Dad premiered Monday, September 29, on MTV.